"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" sneers Johnny Rotten at the Sex Pistols' farewell performance. After seeing this picture you'll understand his disgust, but Julian Temple's sharp portrait of the ragged, raw band... more » of working-class Brits won't leave you disappointed. The Sex Pistols left their legacy in a whirlwind 26-month reign, spitting out a caustic, confrontational brand of rock & roll that became the rallying cry for angry, disaffected youths in late 1970s England and defined the punk movement. Their story was first told two decades ago in the cynical The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, also directed by Temple but produced by the Sex Pistols' smarmy manager, Malcolm McLaren, who stage-managed the film into a self-promoting vanity project. For The Filth and the Fury, Temple turns to the four surviving band members to tell their own stories. His vibrant, vigorous direction captures the period of social unrest and alienated youth without turning into a history lesson, and shows the Pistols in all their insolent glory: spewing obscenities and gesturing lewdly to audiences and press alike, screaming out lyrics, overcoming musical limitations with pure passion and attitude. Rare, raw concert footage (including their final performance, which is appropriately enough the song "No Fun") and previously unseen interviews with the deceased Sid Vicious further energize the portrait. There's even footage of the smiling band cutting cake for kids at a fundraiser with nary a nasty gesture or sneering comment. Now there's a side of the Pistols you don't see everyday.« less
Now I Got a Reason, Now I Got a Reason, Now I Gotta Reason..
Kitten With a Whip | The Hellmouth | 10/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...to pull out all my old Pistols LPs and remember how fun they are to listen to.This movie almost seemed to zip by too fast, but then, so did the Sex Pistols. Come to think of it, the last 20 years (when I first started listening to them in junior high and chopped my hair off into a spike) also zipped by pretty fast...they put all the best songs, the best performances in here, along with some rare footage. Sex Pistols fans may have already seen the interview with a nodded-out Sid Vicious and sleazy girlfriend Nancy Spungen (who makes Courtney Love on one of her bad days look like Grace Kelly in comparison) trying to wake him up for the camera as he snores ("Sid, wake up...they're tryin' ta interview ya..."). But what no fans may not have seen is a short, heartbreaking clip of an interview with Vicious after he is out on bail after being arrested for her murder. When the interviewer thoughtlessly asks him if he's 'having fun right now' (what was that reporter thinking? the kid looks completely miserable), Vicious just chuckles bitterly and asks him, "Are you kidding? No, I'm not having any fun, at all." When the interviewer asks him where he wishes he was right now, Vicious' quiet, calm answer to the question is so chilling and heartfelt that it made every hair on my body stand on end. In a scene shortly after, John Lydon talks about Sid getting his aforementioned wish, and for a minute you think that in the voice over he is laughing, because as a rule you don't see John Lydon displaying any other emotion other than general crankiness. Then you suddenly, shockingly realize he's actually in genuine tears over his dead boyhood friend.But you can also see the fun the Sex Pistols had while it lasted-especially memorable during a retelling of how they played a children's party (still not sure what the story behind this was, or what the people who organized it were thinking, but it was a stroke of genius), with footage of them covered in cake after they start a food fight, to one of the Pistol's best songs (in my opinion), "Bodies". What struck me is how the Sex Pistols (who, at the time, were not far out of their teens themselves) look and act about the same age as the kids at the party. They are obviously having just as much fun as the kids, too- they try to look like tough punk rockers but can't wipe the smiles off their faces as they joyfully have a ball.The soundtrack, timing, and editing are all perfect. "Submission", another of my favorite songs (and in my opinion, one of their more underrated ones) is played over the credits, and it fits perfectly. As I said, my one complaint that was it zipped by too fast, but talking with my husband after the movie, so did the Sex Pistols. One of the better rock documentaries I've seen. A must see for Sex Pistols fans."
One of the best of the young millennium
strummer | Seattle, WA USA | 05/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While the Filth and Fury doesn't necessarily present any new or shocking information to the average Sex Pistols fan it does succeed in framing the band in its proper context. For that, I give this film five stars. It's sometimes easy to dismiss what we read and hear second-hand as hyperbole or exaggeration. Certainly the mythology surrounding The Sex Pistols is fantastic at times, but it's nothing compared to what really happened. Picture Parliament council members, television show hosts, parents and adults of every ilk saying, and more importantly *believing*, The Sex Pistols posed a bigger threat to the youth than Russian Communism. Wow. Kind of makes those conservative Christians who protest Marilyn Manson seem tame in comparison. I think this is the root cause of the film's success -- not so much the history of The Sex Pistols themselves, but the people all around them cheering for them or demanding their arrest. That's where this film finds its fresh angle on the band in my opinion. Also particularly poignant are the present-day interviews with the band members hidden in shadows. At random points they express regret and unabashed guilt that they couldn't make it happen in the long-run. Perhaps, this partially explains the reunion a couple of years ago (in addition to the filthy lucre). Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones provide the best and most-moving interviews. The former for his guilt over not being able to do more to help Sid Vicious and the latter for his brutally honest statement on why he started a band. Lastly, I liked this film because it will hopefully dispel the notion that Sid Vicious and his lefestyle were cool. Sorry, but when you're a junky standing trial for murdering your girlfriend and the one thing you want most is to die that doesn't equal cool in my opinion. It's a tragedy. Huge kudos to Julien Temple for making an engaging, enlightening and vastly entertaining documentary on one of rock history's most notorious bands."
You can almost FEEL the spit.
Edward McGowan | Brooklyn, NY United States | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a day and age awash with formulaic drivel from boy bands, Britney, Madonna, Kid Rock, etc., this film is a breath of pure fresh rock n roll air. A must for any devotee of the band. The movie contains incredible live performance footage and fascinating interviews with the surviving members of the band. John Lydon emerges as an erudite, sensitive, creative, and deep thinking punk rock pioneer, but above all a sincerely motivated social critic. Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen in the flesh here have the effect of rendering the Alex Cox's "Sid and Nancy" obsolete. What this documentary primarliy impressed upon me me was the strong political streak that runs through the Sex Pistol's work. And on top of it all, it ROCKS."
REVEALING AND INSIGHTFUL LIKE NO OTHER ROCK DOCUMENTARY!!!
Mo Lindsey | Newark, New Jersey United States | 10/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary of the Sex Pistols give you a good idea of who these guys are , where they came from , and what they were all about. Many clips from British television , animation and pictures and film footage of the Sex Pistols are used here to tell the story of the birth , rise , and crucifixion of the most notorious rock band in music history. Along with great commentaries by the surviving band members. All of them always , seperately , in silhouette during their commentaries.
You come away with a deeper understanding of the Sex Pistols after watching this DVD. There are insights given here that some fans may not have known about. People saw the band fall apart but this film shows HOW they fell apart and why. They were a band who came out of the dulldrams of British life during the 70's and rose to fame during the birth of punk but in the end of their career may have been exploited as controversial freaks and not a serious band. The band sensed it and broke up. Appropriately , the last song played at their final concert was called "No Fun".
You see the punk rock scene in 1970's England , you see the Bill Grundy interview that gave birth to the bands notorious reputation. And you get Jones' and Rotten's take on the Grundy interview as the clip played. You see the band singing "No Fun" at their last concert in San Francisco and expressing their feelings and insight toward their demise and their regrets through voice overs during the concert clip. You see the demise of Sid Vicious , the sad picture painted of him and Nancy Spurgen , and you see the chilling interview of Sid that showed the unstable state of mind he was in during his pending trial of Nancy's murder. Johnny Rotten , emotionally , expresses his regrets for not helping Sid more and not preventing his death in some way. It is surprising to hear the emotion from Rotten because he is a guy who you never see express sadness and show tears. Its a rare and real moment captured on tape.
As the film goes along you become more captivated by this unique documentary. It captivates you as it goes along because its very insightful to the feelings of the band members and their manager Malcolm and they're all very giving with their insights and feelings. This is a revealing documentary in its abstract approach to telling the story of the Sex Pistols.
The DVD comes with the widescreen version , feature length commentary by director Julien Temple , a documentary on the punk movement , trailer , and DVD-ROM links to the original theatrical website. This is a must have for Sex Pistol and punk rock fanatics."
WE MEAN IT MAN!
Madeline Bocaro | New York, New York | 10/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Filth and The Fury is an exemplary film about an significant period in British history - the late 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.
This is a humourous and touching film - 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.
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.
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.""