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England in the late 70s, just prior to the overwhelming victory of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was in chaos. There was record youth unemployment, IRA bombings, riots, and a garbage strike that went on for months. While the conservatives may have had their own plans, four young lads came together on the Kings Road with an idea of their own: anarchy through music. They were bold, brash, disagreeable, swore on television, insulted their fans at gigs and became immensely popular. Then, after a mere 2 years, the whole thing folded dramatically during their first US tour. This is the story of The Sex Pistols through the eyes of The Sex Pistols. And not through those of their infamous manager, Malcolm McLaren.

"Led by its two infamous enfant terribles - Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious - The Sex Pistols were the high priests of the punk movement. A horrified establishment looked upon them as incarnations of the anti-Christ; to the young and disenfranchised who constituted their fan base, they were the symbolic vanguard of a cultural revolution; an insolent backlash against a music culture long dominated by the feel-good easy listening sound of The Eagles and The Carpenters. Regardless of the fact that the band denounced it, Julien Temple's 1980 documentary about The Pistols - The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle - is still considered to be the most imaginative use of a rock band in films since Richard Lester put The Beatles through their paces in A Hard Day's Night. Some critics have gone so far as to call it the Citizen Kane of rock 'n' roll movies. And for good reason. Employing a kaleidoscopic melange of candy-coloured, comic strip animation, reactionary interviews and live concert footage, the doco provided an unstintingly cynical estimation of the greed, corruption and rampant hypocrisy that lay at the heart of the music business. With The Filth And The Fury, Julien Temple has gone from investigative journalist to pop clip archivist. Which isn't as bad as it sounds. Though it doesn't even begin to approach Swindle's level of sophistication and insight, Temple's revisionist take on the punk ethos still manages to embrace the viewer with a palpable sense of what it was like to be in the eye of the hurricane itself. To achieve this he has assembled a veritable cornucopia of long-unseen newsreel footage which chronologically charts the band's wild, cacophonous journey from Malcolm McLaren's sex-shop-cum-wanna-be trendy drop-in centre in Chelsea to the front pages of the world's newspapers. The quality of the raw footage (mostly 16mm and video blow-ups) is not always the best, but when spliced into the interviews with the band (whose members have been filmed in tantalising silhouette lest their time-ravaged faces spoil the period atmosphere), it establishes an evocative bridge to a crazy, tumultuous period in rock music history."
Leo Cameron

"At the centre of arguably the most dramatic musical and social movement in Britain since World War 2 were those rebellious lads The Sex Pistols. Director Julien Temple returns to familiar territory with this documentary chronicling their rapid rise and spectacular fall. The key difference is that while his 'Swindle' looked at the Pistols from the viewpoint of their flamboyant manager, Malcolm McLaren, The Filth and The Fury allows the band members to tell the story in their own words. Temple’s reverence for his subject matter shines throughout the film. Instead of crusty "talking head" set pieces, we’re treated to footage of the times and places where the tale unfolded. Allowing the band to express their own views of what happened inevitably leads to some conflicts - recollections vary, perceptions about who did what differ. But instead of editing these in the interests of keeping the story "on track", The Filth and The Fury revels in them as an expression of the kind of individualism that marked the group. The film also exposes the antics they used to gain notoriety; and the deep divisions that eventually ripped them apart. Of course, in the end, it was all about the music. Whatever you may think about the Pistols’ music, there are two things that can’t be overlooked - they had an incredible energy and it captured the imagination of a generation. The Filth and The Fury is permeated by both the musical energy and the imaginings of that generation, making it one of the best music documentaries you’re likely to come across."
David Edwards

"Wow. A documentary as good as this one you will rarely see. Julien Temple should win a myriad of awards for The Filth and The Fury. Sure he was lucky enough to have been there, camera rolling, though the whole Sex Pistols phenomena. But it takes a great filmmaker to put together a piece of the calibre of The Filth and The Fury. From the first moments where we see a 1970s TV weatherman going through his paces juxtaposed with images of social unrest at the time, we are aware that this is no ordinary rock and roll documentary. Temple's remarkably intricate layering of the social, the political, the economic, and the rock and roll is absolutely captivating. For 105 minutes we see news stories, populist entertainment of the day and band footage combined with animation, interviews from all involved at the time and reminiscences of surviving band members today. The combination is not only captivating but hugely motivating. It would be difficult to leave the cinema without a complete contempt for the establishment, a disdain for Malcolm McLaren, and a real affection for each member of the Pistols. The Filth and The Fury is informative, funny, depressing and, most of all, moving. It is a great piece of work. Whether or not you're interested in, or even repulsed by, The Sex Pistols, you must see it."
Lee Gough

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See David Edward's interview in Berlin with


Documentary, featuring: Nancy Spungen, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, Stephen Phillip Jones, Steve Jones, John Lydon, Glen Matlock, Malcolm McLaren.

PRODUCERS: Anita Camarata, Amanda Temple

DIRECTOR: Julien Temple


EDITOR: Niven Howie

MUSIC: The Sex Pistols

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes



VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: December 18, 2000



* Footnote on the side: our critic Leo Cameron was living and working (as a movie theatre usher by day and film reviewer by night) in London in 1977 at the height of the punk era. He stills has on tape an interview he did with Malcolm McLaren and Sid Vicious in a noisy nightclub in Islington.


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