The Filth and the Fury (2000)

R   |    |  Documentary, Biography, Music


The Filth and the Fury (2000) Poster

A film about the career of the notorious punk rock band, the Sex Pistols.


7.7/10
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  • John Lydon in The Filth and the Fury (2000)
  • Steve Jones and John Lydon in The Filth and the Fury (2000)
  • Steve Jones and Malcolm McLaren in The Filth and the Fury (2000)
  • The Filth and the Fury (2000)
  • The Filth and the Fury (2000)
  • The Filth and the Fury (2000)

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Director:

Julien Temple

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6 August 2010 | Spikeopath
10
| This one is for Harold Wilson; It's called Liar!
The Filth and the Fury is directed by Julien Temple and is a rockumentary charting the rise and fall of Punk Rock flag bearers, The Sex Pistols. 20 years earlier Temple had made The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, a bonkers and quirky movie that skewed the Sex Pistols legend as some elaborate hoax formulated by band manager Malcolm McLaren. The Filth and the Fury tells the story from the viewpoint of the band members themselves and goes some way to dispelling the myths that surround them and their self publicising manager. The title of the film is a reference to a headline that appeared in the British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mirror after an interview with the band on ITV's Today show presented by Bill Grundy. The story follows the band members from their humble beginnings in London's Shepherd's Bush, to their implosion at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, and then to coup de grace as Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen left the mortal coil.

Love them or hate them, The Sex Pistols in the mid to late 70s created a wave in the music industry that can still be felt today. Most of it now seems tame of course, swearing on TV and alleged distasteful songs are common practice these days, but it were not the case back when flared trousers and guys wearing make up gave way to Punk Rock Britannia. But is there anything here for those who just don't get that the Pistols were influential and one of Britain's most important bands? Yes, definitely. This is no rose tinted glasses documentary serving only to keep the Pistols name on the high heat. Nor, is it over an hour and half of their videos and live footage. Of course the music features prominently, but it's in context to the story, a story that sees the remaining band members give frank and honest assessments of the time, the place and the now.

Interviewing the band singularly in darkened silhouette to give off the impression we are witnessing criminal informers at work, Temple also puts the band into historical context with Britain's social situation in the 1970s. This is crucial to the origins of the band. It was a time of strikes and suspect politicians, so with archival footage from the period, Temple fuses the Pistols ire with that of a country that was limping along in apathy. Haters of the band don't want to agree of course, but the Pistols showed that not all of Britain would surrender meekly, and, that music could actually make a difference and shake up the system. "Get Off Your Arse" snarled John, and thousands did, as Punk bands formed over night and showed that the youth of the day had a voice. How many bands can say that eh?

But as we know, it was to be a short lived journey for the band, one that would end in tragedy: as first the press went bazooka over the top with their every move, and then as one out of his depth bass player lost sight of the bands vision. This part of the film is subtly handled by Temple, the sense of impending doom hangs heavy, none more so with the old interviews held with Vicious that are woven into the last third as self destruction grows ever near. These sequences show what many people either forget or don't realise; that Vicious was just a kid of 21 years of age. This part of the tale also lets us into an untapped part of Lydon's {ne:Rotten} emotional side, a telling moment that brings the sorry chapter to a close.

From a time when music could be as dangerous as the politicians running the country, The Filth & The Fury is an essential music based movie. Not just for fans of the band, nor just for curious music fans in general, but also for historians wishing to see just how bad late 1970s Britain was. 10/10

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Documentary | Biography | Music

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