From the Sky Down is a 2011 documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim about rock band U2 and the production of their 1991 album Achtung Baby. The film documents the album’s difficult recording period, the band members’ relationships, and the group’s creative process.
Guggenheim, who was commissioned by U2 to create the film to commemorate Achtung Baby’s 20th anniversary, spent several months in 2011 developing the documentary.
Archival footage and stills from the recording sessions appear in From the Sky Down, along with unreleased scenes from the group’s 1988 motion picture Rattle and Hum.
For the documentary, the band were filmed during a return visit to Hansa Studios in Berlin where the album was partly recorded, and during rehearsals in Winnipeg for the Glastonbury Festival 2011.
The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2011, the first time in the festival’s history that a documentary was screened as the opening film.
The following month, it was broadcast on television and commercially released in the 20th anniversary reissue of Achtung Baby. Standalone copies of the film were released on December 12, 2011 on Blu-ray and DVD.
Critics’ reviews of From the Sky Down have been mixed. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an enthusiastic review, describing it as “one of the most transcendent close-up looks at the process of creating rock & roll I’ve ever seen.” In his opinion, the film was a “stirring testament to what it really means when four people in this world can create magical things because they band together.”
Hank Steuver of The Washington Post called it an “intriguing” documentary that “becomes a revealing and even enlightening meditation on the mystery of why some bands stay together and some don’t.” The review said the film is “refreshingly blunt and beautifully assembled”, and it praised Guggenheim for asking the band tough questions about that period in their history.