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U2: Rattle and Hum (1988)

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A documentary of Irish rock group U2's Fall 1987 tour of North America.


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Credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dennis Bell ...
Adam Gussow ...
Jack Hale ...
Jim Horn ...
Wayne Jackson ...
Himself (as The Memphis Horns)
Andrew Love ...
Himself (as The Memphis Horns)
Sterling Magee ...
Joey Miskulin ...
Himself (as Joseph M. Miskulin)
Gayl Murphy ...
Herself (as Press Conference Interviewer)


This film documents the 1987 North American tour of the great rock band, U2. Fresh with their success of their best selling album, The Joshua Tree, the band plays monster gigs. Along the way, the band takes the opportunity in indulge in some special musical activities like playing with BB King and performing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking" with a famous church choir. All the while, concert footage of the band's biggest hits on tour is featured while Bono speaks his mind on the problems of his homeland. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Music


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

U2: Rattle and Hum  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$8,600,823 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Many of the songs performed in Rattle And Hum are altered from their original release, most notably: "With Or Without You", which contains a whole new verse to end the song; "Exit", which includes the chorus from "Gloria" (interestingly, the Van Morrison song, although U2 also had an early hit titled "Gloria"); and "Bad", which adds verses from the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and "Sympathy For The Devil". See more »


[the band is thrilled to be playing with B.B. King]
B.B. King: If we could find somebody to play chords... I'm no good with chords. I'm horrible with chords.
Bono: Um... yeah... well, uh, the Edge can do that.
See more »


References World News with Diane Sawyer (1953) See more »


Words Bono
Music U2
See more »

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User Reviews

this is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles and we're stealing it back!
31 May 2005 | by See all my reviews

When U2 arrives in the fall 1987 to start the second leg of their American tour to promote "The Joshua Tree" (1987), they already filled with enthusiasm millions of Americans with their masterpiece and they were showered with praise by virtually all musical critics but also important newspapers (the magazine Newsweek even put them on the cover!). The amount? Bono and his band were crowned the biggest rock and roll band in the world. A status which isn't easy to assume and when one has a rock and roll masterpiece under one's belt, delivering it a follow-up is a difficult task. Maybe that's why the most famous Irish quartet had the idea to make a film accompanied by an album: to try to forge ahead and to take a new musical direction.

So, "U2: Rattle and Hum" (1988) is a documentary which goes back over the band's tour in America where they alternate concerts and cultural discoveries (the visit of Graceland). Their album "the Joshua Tree" had already expressed their fascination for America, the movie "Rattle and Hum" confirms it. The director Phil Joanou (Martin Scorsese turned down this role) also filled his work with interviews and recording sessions which took place after the tour in 1988. Each member's disposition is revealed in these interviews but also throughout the movie and during their tour especially with concerts. So, in Joanou's opus, Bono and his men reaffirm their positions on a social, cultural and above all musical point of view while not forgetting their Irish roots. Concerning music which constitutes the backbone of the movie, the band explores several facets of American music. The Stax-soul tribute "Angel of Harlem", the blues "When Love Comes to Town" with a prestigious guest: BB King, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" in a gospel version show a progressive Americanization of the band. But in parallel, not to lose their identity, the four members remain faithful to their musical influences; either it is the sinewy "Desire" or the atmospheric "Heartland" that sounds like a "the Joshua Tree" outtake. Hence an impression of hodgepodge: the tracks cut in studio are rather badly linked up. It is difficult to let oneself rock with beautiful heavenly flights then to follow with unusual tracks for the band without losing the thread.

That said, the musical trimmings that somewhat hinders the movie didn't stop Bono and his men to write some of U2's best songs. On another extent, Phil Joanou's technical feats enable the spectator to attend the concerts as if he were on stage with the band. The latter is presented in this state like we would imagine them for the ones who have never seen them in concert: fiery, feverish, passionated by their music and ready to make a declaration aiming at peace in Northern Ireland and why not in the rest of the world (Bono's words in the middle of Sunday Bloody Sunday"). And I address the fans of the band who may have the album but not seen the movie and the casual listeners: a good part of U2's hits of the eighties and notably from "the Joshua Tree" are performed on stage: "Bad", "Where the Streets Have No Name", "With or Without You".

I also think that having shot the movie in black and white and in color gives it a arty side. At the end of the day, it's a worthy but suicidal undertaking. Indeed, the limited commercial career of Joanou's opus clearly shows once again that this kind of film is seldom successful in the theaters in spite of the fact that the video was a best-seller in the Anglo-Saxon countries. And for U2, the eighties ended in a little rough way but fortunately, the nineties will begin (and for me end) triumphantly with "Achtung Baby" (1991).

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