Never-before-seen colour footage of legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, thought to have been lost, has been discovered by film historians at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).The film by counterculture documentary maker Peter Whitehead captured the action on and off stage as Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham performed at the Bath Festival in 1970. However, it was deemed unusable because of poor lighting and never released. At an event at the Royal Albert Hall celebrating Whitehead’s 1960s music films, Professor Steve Chibnall of DMU’s Cinema and Television History (CATH) research centre said he had seen the colour footage and believed it could be restored – just as Whitehead’s Led Zep concert from the hall had been remastered for release in 2003.It had been thought no film footage survived from the Bath concert. Whitehead donated his archive to CATH last year which includes unseen film, diaries, journals, cuttings and all kinds of material covering his output and it was there that the cans containing the Led Zep footage were found.RELATED NEWS:* Film researchers organise first postgraduate #DMUglobal trip* Director donates eclectic archive to DMU* Celebration of rock's golden age curated at Royal Albert HallProf Chibnall said: “There were all kinds of problems with Bath and the project was shelved. Although the Bath footage does exist. I’ve seen it.
“There’s 20 to 30 minutes and a lot of it is backstage. I’ve only seen the footage, not with sound. The problem according to Peter Whitehead was that a) he was stuck in traffic and was supposed to film the band arriving by helicopter and missed that.
“Then when Led Zeppelin played, they played in the dark and there was insufficient stage lighting for the cameras. So he reckoned that the footage was not usable. It is because it can be restored now. You can raise those lighting levels, you can see more digitally.
“It looks beautiful to me and I think it was recorded, the band probably have a recording of it, I think.”The footage, he said, belonged to Whitehead but Led Zeppelin would obviously own the music soundtrack to the concert. Prof Chibnall said it would be an amazing project to restore the film for release in time for the 50th anniversary of the Bath gig. Whitehead’s film of Led Zeppelin at the Royal Albert Hall was shown at the event. Shot on stage by him and two assistants, it showed the band at the height of their rock n roll powers.
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