The new documentary The Filth and the Fury ranks as one of the great ones. It chronicles the rise and tragic fall of the infamous British Punk band The Sex Pistols, and the cultural impact they have spread upon the world around us. Director Julian Temple takes the film far above the usual VH-1 retrospectives, recounting past glories, drug parties, and the way a musician found God in a motel in Alabama, thus bringing together the catalytic elements that resulted in the musical movement called "Punk." The Sex Pistols were the forefathers of that movement.
In the late seventies, Britain's social upheaval was severe. A stagnant economy, unemployment, race riots, looting, and strikes intersected with a strong distaste for royalty and the upper class. A working class revolution was in the works. Punk music was its Gabriel's Trumpet, and the Pistols were blowing with all of their might.
With this backdrop, the film then beautifully intertwines social commentary with television commercials of the time, footage of riots, and various news reports. The film then juxtaposes current and past interviews with all five band members as well as home footage of the bandmates' childhood (including a rare interview with Sid Vicious before his death in 1978). The intimacy of these interviews and the evidence of the social strife validate the actions of the members of the Pistols and really makes you feel what the band was trying to convey in the words and rhythms of its music.
Julian Temple was also responsible for the first film concerning the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols: The Great Rock and Roll Swindle. That film painted the Pistols as a brilliant marketing tool in the hands of their manager, Malcolm MacLaren. The Filth and the Fury sets the record straight for the first time. It gives great insight into the motivations of the Pistols, but it also gives the uneducated a great perspective on how the Punk movement began and how it all came hurtling to a blind halt by commercialism, social pressure, and the fear of individuality.
Eat the rich.
Run time: 108 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th May 2000
Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES
Production compaines: Nitrate Film, Film4
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 37 Rotten: 2
IMDB: 7.7 / 10
Director: Julien Temple
Producer: Amanda Temple
Starring: John Lydon as Himself (as Johnny Rotten), Sid Vicious as Himself (archive footage), Glen Matlock as Himself, Paul Cook as Himself, Malcolm McClaren as Himself, David Bowie as Himself (archive footage), Alice Cooper as Himself (archive footage), Stewart Copeland as Himself (archive footage), Bryan Ferry as Himself (archive footage), Benny Hill as Himself (archive footage), Billy Idol as Himself (archive footage), Sting as Himself (archive footage)