Who better to direct a documentary on the Stooges than indie film auteur Jim Jarmusch, a man who hasn't given a fuck in, well, ever, much like the eponymous Michigan band he gives to us in this unflinching, funny and triumphant film. Add to this the fact that he holds the group with the highest regard (the film begins with him describing them as "the greatest rock n roll band ever") and I don't think anyone could ask for a more suitable CV.

Gimme Danger begins by plunging us into the world of the Stooges circa 1974 during the Raw Power tour, when everything had turned almost entirely to shit. Exhausted (from drugs and touring), beaten, humiliated but still defiant, they had reached the ends of their tethers and the nightly trauma had finally taken its toll. Iggy was upsetting everybody, bikers and hostile audiences were becoming increasingly violent and bloodthirsty, and the whole circus was collapsing around them. It was time to go home.

And home we go to Ann Arbor, Michigan, with the first chunk of the documentary being a very pleasant and amusing portrait of a young Jim Osterberg and co. We learn about his trailer park upbringing, his early high school bands and his knack and enthusiasm for the drums. It's hard to imagine the cultural phenomenon we know as Iggy Pop having such an innocent and idyllic early life, but that was how it was. Jarmusch tells the tale by combining modern vox pops of Iggy (and later, the Stooges members) with playful footage of comedy trio the Three Stooges misbehaving, and beautifully edited photographs and film from '50s and '60s Michigan.

There are a lot of humorous and sometimes disorienting clips of old films, advertisements, and television shows also thrown into the mix, which work great in the context of Iggy's musings. One highlight is when he cites a wacky children's television show character Soupy Sales as being an influence on his writing method as he advised the kids to "limit their fan letters to 25 words". This is something that Pop carried with him through his life, and it's plain to see (and hear) in his blunt, sparse but often poetic lyricism. In brutal Stooges years, it defined him.

Jarmusch's style here is similar to that of recent rockumentaries Montage of Heck and Supersonic, using cartoons and an almost scrapbook-like method of laying down the foundations of the key players and eventually taking us back to a time when America considered this band despicable and juvenile. Much like the aforementioned films, the approach is raw and relentless. Photographs of a blood-stained Iggy adorn the screen with no mercy, and for a casual Iggy Pop fan, these may come across as shocking. But it isn't all violence and taboo. The scenes when Iggy finally meets his fellow Stooges and the band begins to take shape are remarkable, and it's a joy to see the Asheton brothers and the rest of the band members telling their sides of the story. Ron, the soft-spoken Nazi memorabilia-collection guitarist and chief riff master, and Scott, the eternally handsome, trustworthy drummer, were everything to Iggy and the film serves as a tribute to these fallen musical legends, as well as the awesomely talented saxophone player Steve Mackay who also pops up with some anecdotes.

Jarmusch cleverly finds a way to balance the boyish, charming side of the band with the terrifying and chaotic circumstances in which they found themselves in. Ultimately, the true victory of the documentary belongs to the Stooges, who remained punk and true to themselves until the end. Their 2003 reunion after decades apart was beautiful and told as the film comes to an end, showing how J Mascis and Mike Watt led the "reunification" (as Iggy puts it) to take place.

They were once the most hated band in America, who were forced away for a long time whilst their influence upon music did all the talking. In some ways they were martyrs, sacrificing themselves and their dignity for what would become punk rock. Eventually, they returned as heroes and pioneers to a new generation who accepted and embraced them. They were truly ahead of their time, shelved next to the Velvet Underground and the Doors as the greatest bands America gave to the world. This film is a celebration of their legacy. Jarmusch himself has described it as "a love letter to the Stooges".

Whether you're a casual fan or a hardcore obsessive, this film will entertain and educate you in equal measures. It's not for the faint of heart, but I took my mum to watch it and she loved it, so take from that what you will. Gimme Danger is a bittersweet testament to a group of true American outsiders, most of whom have passed away, leaving Iggy proudly carrying the torch in their absence. Once upon a time they were bottled off stage but in the end, it was the Stooges that had the last laugh. And at 69, Iggy is still laughing with us.