Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Sex Pistols - The Filth & The Fury DVD

The Sex Pistols
The Filth and The Fury - DVD

The Filth and The Fury is an exemplary film about an significant period
in British history - the 1970’s. It should be shown in every high
school history class. Director Julien Temple gets another crack at the
Sex Pistols as his subject after 1980’s “The Great Rock n’ Roll
Swindle”, but with a new twist - humanity.

Though they were hygienically and linguistically foul, the racket the
Pistols made was pristine and clear in its intent. Though the lyrics
were snide and bleak, they were a mad celebration of youth and
rebellion. The music was actually quite melodic and uplifting,
probably due to bassist Glen Matlock’s love of the Beatles. The chorus
of “No Future” was a glorious anti-national anthem, sung with
exuberance and joy despite the fact that the message was a pessimistic
one. The dirge-like “We Shall Overcome” was sung by Martin Luther
King’s followers with poignant sadness, yet the Pistols’ “No Future”
was chanted in pure hopeless reverie - against the monarchy, against
youth repression, against discrimination, and against disco. Watching
people in flares trodding through all the trash in London’s streets
during the garbage strike, Rotten saw they were clearly missing the
point; “Wear the garbage bag!” The Pistols’ punk fashion; ripped and
pinned clothing was actually created out of poverty.

It is a humourous and touching film as well, especially when Rotten
comes to tears while speaking of Sid’s demise. Who would have thought
that the closest bond in the band would be between Rotten and Vicious.
The narration was by each band member in silhouette - clearly
illustrating their feeling that they had all been rape victims. The
rapist himself, manager Malcolm McLaren is represented by a respiring
black rubber mask - the bondage that restricted the band. Juxtaposed
throughout are scenes from British comedy shows from which Rotten
amassed his wide range of spectacular facial expressions, and scenes
from Richard The III, in which Laurence Olivier spouts lines perfectly
coinciding with the Pistols’ own story. After all, they had an
exceptional sense of theatrics.

Whether floating down the Thames on a barge playing “God Save The
Queen” on the day of the queen’s Silver Jubilee or performing for
missile-tossing rednecks in Texas, the Pistols remained resilient and
allegiant to their kamikaze mission All the energy put into banning
them both in the UK and the US forcing them to play under assumed names
caused more of a sensation than the harmless Pistols would have ever
caused on their own.

The live concert footage (overdubbed with studio tracks) is remarkable,
especially a charity party the band played at for children of firemen
who had lost their jobs. Rotten proclaims it one of the best times he
had, being lovingly covered in cream pies by very young children as he
sang, “Mommy, I’m not an animal”! Quite touching.

The band’s moniker was conceived by McLaren to depict A Clockwork
Orange sort of maniacal youth gang; a pack of sexy guys brandishing
weapons, but the Pistols were actually too charmingly laughable to pull
off that image. The shots of the band as cheeky kids with mischievous
smiles against a soundtrack of the Pistols’ dauntless anarchistic
diatribes on television depicted their genuine innocence. All they
really did was tell the truth, and as Rotten says, “We declared war on
England without meaning to.”

- Madeline Bocaro


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