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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Filth And The Fury - A Sex Pistols Film [DVD]
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2005
This documentary contains an inspiring amount of footage. It's really lively and feels like it gets right to the heart of the band and the punk movement.
What I particularly enjoyed was the way it cut Malcom McClaren down to size. For years people have been saying that he "invented punk" and that the Pistols were a "projection of his fantasies" and silly things like that. But as John Lydon retorts here "I invented me, no one else did." McClaren's boastfulness blows up in his face. He's really made to look stupid, and, whether rightly or wrongly, completely selfish and ruthless.
The interviews with Lydon are funny, clever and moving in turn. When he talks about the death of Sid it's very sad. It's actually quite a tragic tale this. It's easy to forget that Sid was not just an icon but, as Lydon puts it as he tries to hold back the tears "my mate, one of the four Johns."
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2005
This is not only one of the best documentaries that I've ever seen, but ranks up there with the best films I've seen full stop. This Julien Temple made documentary puts to shame the cartoonish mish mash of falsities and self aggrandizement that is Malcolm Maclarens 'The great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle'. There is some fantastic early footage here that I've not seen before - check out the Pistols doing 'No Feelings' in the studio - Rotten is at his scathing, pranksterish best. And is there any image so basically cool - Rock 'N' Roll - as that of Rotten and the Pistols singing 'God Save The Queen' on the riverboat during the Queens silver jubilee celebrations? It's also great to hear him speaking of his London Irish childhood and of the era in which the pistols formed. Whoever thought that Johnny Rotten was influenced by, among other things, Vaudeville, and Ken Dodd? Also, if you can manage to hold back the tears at the end when Johnny is interviewed about the death of Sid Vicious then your stronger than me. Rotten was a highly intelligent, iconoclastic, rebellious prankster that lent an almighty kick in the face to the mediocrity and stunted possibilities of the time. The Pistols gave a shot in the arse to the mucic 'industry' and the culture as a whole, and we should all be grateful to him for doing so. This is a superb film and should be seen by anyone interested in the possibilties of music to, if not change the world, then at least to severly ruffle it's feathers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2003
Directed by Julien Temple, a first-hand witness of the 1970's UK Punk scene, The Filth and the Fury is an excellent docimentary of that most essential and influential of UK Punk bands, the Sex Pistols. Despite their questionable musical ability, and subsequent sell-out via the "Filthy Lucre" tours, you would be a fool to question the Sex Pistols impact on the music scene of the 1970's. The documentary covers the whole gamut, from the raging ego's of Malcolm McLaren and Johnny Rotten, right through the genuinly touching moments (Rotten's guilt and sorrow over losing his friend Sid Vicious, and the heart-warming if bizarre footage of the Christmas eve benefit of 1977 where the Pistols played at a party for the children of striking miners, and the kids got to pelt Johnny Rotten with custard pies!). The music is of course great, including the poignant footage of their swansong at Winterland, San Francicso in February of 1978. The movie also has its genuinly disturbing moments, including everything involving Nancy Spungeon, and ends with horrific footage of a hopelessly addicted Sid Vicious in the months before his overdose in 1979. Truly an essential purchase for the devotee of either the band or the punk movement as a whole.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2000
I suppose the interested would have already sort this one out, others who really thought they knew about the Punk scene would be in for a bit of a culture shock when they watch this one. Johnny Rotten is one of the few who is qualified to corroborate the fact that 'Punk' was about individuality but to eminate the gift of being individual, PUNK was destroyed once everyone got in on the act. Drugs, managers and hangers on, 'they spoiled it' he says and you can clearly see why in this film.
Johnny, John, Paul, Sid and Glen with the help of Julien Temple brilliantly tell the tale of this band and the time in history when Britain and the World were kicked into moving those moral boundaries. They explain what happened and exactly why it HAD to happen. Fully expressive, the film is so well made, that even those who don't understand the music will appreciate and respect what it's about. I was not a Punk in the 70's, but a TRUE ROOTS ROCKERS Casual girl, totally 'ism'd' about my Roots/Lovers music. It seems I missed out on a lot of fun, this film is really a must if you're the least bit curious about the REAL PUNK SCENE.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2010
I grew up during the punk period, just starting my teenage years when it broke. I don't know if it was because of this stage of life, or if it was the music itself, but for me, it was a time that defined how I think to this day. All of sudden there was a question mark over how all the accepted conventions, 'why must I be like you'. Like a lot of my friends, I picked up a guitar for the first time, and I produced a wail of absolute rubbish. But to say that punk was a period of destruction is only half the story. It was period that broke down walls and released creativity, individualism and imagination. It was brief, but it's effects have rippled through the decades. The death of Malcolm McClaren made me want to dig out this DVD again. I always thought that he was much more a showman than a Svengali, but he played a part, and he played it very well. So for what it's worth, RIP Malcolm. The tragic tale of Sid, casts a very real cloud over the story. Despite this, how ironic that at the end of the day, all that rebellion made the Pistols so revered, released so much creativity and free-thinking that they have become an institution in themselves. Pure art. I can't help look back and smile.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
It's difficult to remember how bland and ordinary life was for most people in the 70's. That's why punk was almost inevitable. The beauty of this film is the documentary approach, which makes this a visual collage. The excerpts from everyday life, television shows, comedians on stage and media reaction bring the whole thing brilliantly to life. When you see what punk was reacting against it is almost laughable, and you will be moved to chuckle on many occasions.
Even if you despise what punk is "supposed" to stand for, you can understand the attraction and need for punk. The band themselves are relaxed and open about their involvement and this definitely sheds new light on the phenomenom for those who care.
Although some of the footage has been seen before, there is enough new film to make the whole film refreshing. My only compaint is some particularly queasy dubbing on some of the concert footage, a minor misgiving on the whole. In a word, indispensable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2012
This documentary is very good. No, really great. No, scratch that. It's mandatory!

If you ever thought you knew anything about popular music, rock 'n' roll or punk, you haven't seen nothin' yet until you see this movie. It proves what a lot of people don't seem to understand; namely that just because you're a "punk" does not mean that you're some "filthy" slacker who is desperate for other people's attention. Most people, no matter who you are or what music you play, just want to have fun and go nuts. Through their lyrics they tell the world how they feel about society and about themselves. We learn that in the late 70's there was a darn good reason why a lot of people, especially people from the working class, were angry about the state of Great Britain at the time and they felt that something must be done.

If you think that everything about punk is "filthy lucre", you might be shocked to find that John Lydon is a very intelligent person. I already knew it, because any interview with him proves it. Sid seems to have been a nice guy who just tried to be tougher than he actually was. He then fell victim to the drug swamp and was eventually sucked in so deep that he drowned. He didn't deserve to die and I don't believe he killed Nancy, but that's mostly based on other sources.

To sum up this movie, I will borrow a quote from John Lydon, with some slight adjustments to fit this text (but keeping the core intact):

"In every documentary about any band ever, everybody's busy tellin' you how great everything is. That's not true at all. It's hell, it's hard; it's enjoyable to a certain extent, but it's the work at the end of the day that makes it worth it."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I came to this film having recently read Vivienne Westwood's (with Ian Kenny)
2014 autobiography, in itself a vivid and absorbing account of the genesis of punk
culture and the major players in the drama which unfolded in and around her
and Malcolm McClaren's chaotic World's End shop in the gloom of 1970's Britain.

Julian Temple's 2007 work about the rise and fall of The Sex Pistols is set against
a backdrop of national political turmoil and its impact on socially and emotionally
disaffected youth is an engaging and powerful masterclass in documentary making.

The recollections of surviving band members are shot in shadow, an at times
disconcerting technique which nonetheless serves to amplify the tawdry story.
Mr Rotten's narrative, in particular, is both articulate and curiously affecting.

Live footage of the band in their mercurial but damned ascendency captures
a real sense of what it must have been like to be trapped in a room with them!

Although by no means a fan at the time I find myself drawn to them in my dotage.

Highly Recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2005
This is not only one of the best documentaries that I've ever seen, but ranks up there with the best films I've seen full stop. This Julien Temple made documentary puts to shame the cartoonish mish mash of falsities and self aggrandizement that is Malcolm Maclarens 'The great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle'. There is some fantastic early footage here that I've not seen before - check out the Pistols doing 'Bodies' in the studio - Rotten is at his scathing, pranksterish best. And is there any image so basically cool - Rock 'N' Roll - as that of Rotten and the Pistols singing 'God Save The Queen' on the riverboat during the Queens silver jubilee celebrations? It's also great to hear him speaking of his London Irish childhood and of the era in which the pistols formed. Whoever thought that Johnny Rotten was influenced by, among other things, Vaudeville, and Ken Dodd? Also, if you can manage to hold back the tears at the end when Johnny is interviewed about the death of Sid Vicious then your stronger than me. Rotten was a highly intelligent, iconoclastic, rebellious prankster that lent an almighty kick in the face to the mediocrity and stunted possibilities of the time. The Pistols gave a shot in the arse to the mucic 'industry' and the culture as a whole, and we should all be grateful to him for doing so. This is a superb film and should be seen by anyone interested in the possibilties of music to, if not change the world, then at least to severly ruffle it's feathers.
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