19 December 2002 | rockinthe607
Review of Julien Temple's documentary of the Sex Pistols
In his documentary, The Filth and the Fury, Julien Temple chronicles the rise and the fall of the legendary punk rock band the Sex Pistols. Temple tells this story through accounts given to him by the still living Sex Pistols, as the opposing side to his other Sex Pistols film, Great Rock and Roll Swindle, which was told to him by the Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren.
Temple uses interviews with the band members to tell the story of the Sex Pistols and intertwines it with live footage of the band's concerts and a taped interview with Sid Vicious, filmed before his death. The band their formation, joining up with McLaren, firing Glen Matlock, replacing him with Vicious, their problems in the United Kingdom and the United States, and the eventual end of the band due to Vicious's heroin addiction.
The documentary really got inside of the Sex Pistols and showed a more human side of the band. While the band is often made out to be a bunch of rowdy, angry, punk rock kids, the documentary showed a different side to them. Footage is shown of the band during a children's benefit show and the band members are seen playing with and talking to the kids with huge smiles on their faces, their joy at being at the event evident. Johnny Rotten also spends a large amount of time at the end of the film discussing Vicious' heroin addiction and his guilt at being unable to help his friend before it was too late.
I really liked the live footage of the Sex Pistols shows, as it showed the band in their element and also did a lot to show what the scene was like when the Pistols were around, and I could see how little it has changed since then. The footage shown of the Sex Pistols on a British television show and clips of newspaper articles at the time also did a lot to show the band's image in the eyes of the media as well.
One problem with the movie was that live footage of the band would be playing and then the film would cut to scenes from a Shakespeare movie or other random scene, which completely detracted from the film. Every time one of those clips would cut in it would jar my attention from the story, and it definitely broke up the cohesiveness of the film.
I think the film did a good job capturing the image that the Sex Pistols gave off, while also contrasting it with more human images of them, like during the children's show. Overall, I think the film was very well done, though I would have liked to have seen more background on each of the band members, rather than the Shakespearean ode. I would give this film a 7/10 and would recommend it to anyone looking for information about the Sex Pistols.