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    DVD Video - Reviews [Filth and the Fury: Sex Pistols]


    Filth And The Fury: The Sex Pistols

    Release Date:

    Studio: New Line
    Year: 2000
    Run Time: 103 minutes
    Rating: R
    Starring: Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, Steve Jones, Glen Matlock
    Directed by: Julien Temple
      Movie Summary: [Music]

        "The Filth and the Fury" is a shocking portrait of one of the most notorious rock groups of all time. A compelling and insightful look into the world of The Sex Pistols, this film charts their rise from the back streets of '70s London and their ultimate implosion while on tour in America.

    DVD Details
    • Color, Surround, Closed Captioned, Region 1
    • Never before seen footage of candid interviews, performances, rehearsals and recording sessions!
    See Full Disc Details...

    Reviewer: Rob Smentek


            I n their 26 months together as a band, the Sex Pistols not only changed the boundaries of pop music, but provided a soundtrack for the bored, the angry and the alienated. Their one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, released in 1977, contains a collection of three-chord anthems containing lyrics that incite and offend, while laying the groundwork for the burgeoning punk rock revolution. At the height of their popularity and infamy the bands four members, Johnny "Rotten" Lydon (vocals), Sid Vicious (bass), Paul Cook (drums) and Steve Jones (guitar), called it quits, becoming a rock band of mythic proportions, despite the fact that not a single band member was over 22.

    Julian Temple's documentary Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Film chronicles the existence of the world's most infamous punk rock band. Filth is Temple's second collaboration with the Pistols. The first, the Great Rock and Roll Swindle, was a "posthumous" mismatch of music videos, cartoons, and archival footage orchestrated by the band's svengali-like manager Malcolm McLaren after the Pistols' demise. The film was a notorious disaster, whose only purpose was portraying McLaren as the mastermind of the Sex Pistols. Filth and the Fury is an attempt to set the record straight with the full involvement and narration of all of the Sex Pistols' surviving members (John Lydon refused any participation in the Great Rock and Roll Swindle).

    Filth and the Fury (whose title comes from a British newspaper blasting the band) opens with scenes of recession stricken England in the mid-70s. We quickly "meet" the Sex Pistols, with voice over narration that accompanies baby pictures of each of the members, including original bass player Glen Matlock. Prior to this film, I don't think anyone could imagine Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious as "innocent" babes. The now middle-aged Sex Pistols themselves are only seen in silhouette, giving their punk rock personas a sense of timelessness, if such things can be said about torn clothing and spiky hair.

    Temple cut the film from hundreds of hours of home movies, TV appearances, and concert footage... much of which he shot as a fan of the band in the 1970's. Absent from much of Filth is McLaren, whose ongoing feud with Lydon is something that is destined for VH1's "Behind the Music." The manager is only seen in cut footage from the Swindle, wearing a rubber body suit (?).

    Filth covers the band's career from their early days as employees in McLaren's fetish clothing store in London to their fateful, final tour of the United States. There is no mention of the post-Pistols solo activities, or the 1996 reunion tour. The band members, particularly Lydon, do a fantastic job of describing what it was like to capture the hatred of the entire world through punk rock music. It's easy to forget, when seeing the Pistols on the cover of old London newspapers, that they were practically kids.

    All of the Foul Four's "hits" are present in Filth and the Fury. Many of the songs are seen being performed live by the band or during rare, never seen before recording sessions. Regrettably, Temple chose to overdub studio cuts during concert footage, giving songs like "God Save the Queen" and "Anarchy in the UK" a somewhat watered down feel. It would have been interesting to see the band at their rawest and most powerful.

    Along with the aforementioned recording sessions, much of Filth and the Fury contains previously unreleased footage. Especially haunting is an interview with bass player Sid Vicious, that was done shortly after the band's break-up. Vicious is frank about his heroin addiction, professing a desire to get clean. Heroin would eventually kill Vicious, while he was out on parole for the murder of his girlfriend in early 1979. Lydon eventually gets teary eyed while talking about his deceased friend, expressing regret for the way he ignored his friend after the band dissolved. Yep, you heard me...JOHNNY ROTTEN CRIES. Another notable inclusion is a cut-scene from the Swindle that features none other than Sting as a member of a gay New Wave band.

    The DVD transfer of Filth is hardly garbage. This movie is no-shot-video quickie so common in music home videos. The film is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, and the picture looks great. The Dolby Digital Surround sound is ideal for a movie that relies so heavily on music...as raw and raunchy as it is. The extras on the disc are something special. Included is a commentary by Temple, who provides an excellent history on his relationship with the band, as well as a bit into his filmmaking process. Also included is an original 45-minute documentary called "Un-defining Punk" which attempts to differentiate what punk rock meant to people in different areas. Representatives from New York, West Coast, and London all describe what the punk rock movement was about in those areas. In many of the cases, it is diametrically opposing. "Re-defining Punk" contains interviews with musicians Richard Hell (Voidoids), Keith Morris (Circle Jerks), and the reclusive Jimmy Pursey (Sham 69). The disc also has the standard theatrical trailer (yawn).

    Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Film is one of the best movies made about a singular rock band. It ignores the Sex Pistols mythos portrayed in Sid and Nancy, and provides real insight into the young men who not only changed rock music, but pop culture as well. What started as a garage band resulted in a worldwide phenomenon that collapsed way too soon.


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