REVIEW SPECIAL- NOW OUT ON BLU-RAY
Sex Pistols - There'll Always Be An England (Fremantle DVD FHED2464)
Director: Julien Temple
Extras: The Knowledge - A Unique Guide to London by the Pistols / Johnny Rotten's Tour Of London
Main feature running time 77 miniutes. Extras running time 97 mins.
Blu-Ray Update May 2011. Having viewed the blu-ray disc, I'm happy to confirm the quality is stunning. Mind you, the DVD was good as well! Phil
There are well filmed concerts, and there are dynamically engaging concert films; this falls into the latter. As Julien explained to God Save The Sex Pistols earlier this year, the audience interaction with the band was an integral part of the film he was making, and it comes across here. Quite a few visitors to this site will be able to spot themselves amongst the crowd.
The picture quality is breathtaking, as is the lighting and the different camera angles that are used, ranging from the back of the stage looking out across the crowd, through to shots from up on the balcony. You get a feel for the Brixton Academy itself, which really adds to the experience: it'll bring back spine-tingling memories for those who were there, and give an almost tangible sensation of what it was like for those who weren't.
The band are, of course, all magnificent. Confident, serious, humorous, and focused in equal measure. Chris Thomas has delivered a terrific mix, far exceeding that on Filthy Lucre Live. It sounds exactly like you remember. It's a joyous celebration.
The Knowledge - A Unique Guide to London by the Pistols, the long anticipated DVD extra, is the kind of feature every music DVD ought to have. It offers another fresh insight into the origins and early development of the Sex Pistols, as recalled by the band themselves. No journalists telling us where the band lived, rehearsed, stole, did a runner from... no, this time the Sex Pistols themselves re-visit the important locations around London that helped shape the group. It's such a simple premise, but it works so well. It brings the story to life.
Like the concert itself, it's cleverly edited; just check the way Glen, Steve, and Paul enter their old Denmark St base. Likewise, the less obvious approaches to locations are taken, such as Glen entering the 100 Club via the back; it all gives an indication of the attention to detail that has gone into the production.
Highlights include discovering John's marker pen drawings of the band are still intact on the walls at Denmark Street; Steve's "visit" to a hooker during the filming; John's return to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium at night time where he voices his displeasure at his favourite football club's new ground; Paul and Steve's visit to Riverside studio recalling the band's very early days; Glen revisiting the Pistols gig at The Screen On The Green, where John broke his tooth and The Clash had to build the stage for them....I'll stop so as not to spoil it for you.
Perhaps the most poignant moment comes from Steve who is clearly moved by his visit to Wally's house and has to walk away. The most humorous moment also belongs to Steve as he walks around London likening it to a Dickens novel adding, "You expect a bucket of piss to come flying out of the window." John's rants from atop his double decker bus are also hilarious, especially when he passes 430 King's Road. But more of John later.
Some unseen short clips crop up adding extra value to the proceedings and ensuring Sid gets a look in. More deck chair talk and playing with his gun in Paris.
As with the main concert film, The Knowledge has been cleverly compiled, allowing you to begin your tour around London with which ever band member you choose, before dovetailing neatly into the main narrative.
Johnny Rotten's Tour Of London is a further 30 minute treat. If you are expecting a tour of Sex Pistols landmarks, think again. John spends his time on the open top bus, with a microphone in his hand, venting his anger at modern day London, particularly the architecture. He has a point as he compares the old classic structures with the glass monstrosities of today. "It's gone wrong. Where's my England?" He finds some peace at the end of the day as he watches the sun set across London. As he points out, he has to stand on top of a tall building to even see the sun set in today's London. At the end of the journey you'll be hard pressed to disagree with him.
It's a killer DVD in every respect. It does the band justice, and treats the audience with the respect they deserve. It's also great value. Music DVDs don't come any better.
Review by Phil Singleton (June '08)
©2008 Phil Singleton / www.sex-pistols.net
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