Tragedy of the punk romantics
March 7, 1986)
in a profession known for its self-inflicted violence and shortness of life, Sid
Vicious and Nancy Spungen were unique in the horror and squalor of their lives
when Sid, the Sex Pistols bass player, stabbed Nancy, his American groupie girlfriend,
to death in a sleazy New York hotel in October 1978, it inevitably reinforced
peoples ideas that punk was decadent and evil.
months later, while on bail in America charged with the killing, Sid Vicious died
of a heroin overdose.
was just 20 when she died. Sid was 21. Their 18-month relationship fused into
a lethal mixture of violent sex, crazed aggression and pathetically loyal love
that took them to the grave and added them to the long list of the pop music industrys
victims which has included Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon.
the whole saga has been reconstructed for a £3 million film Dead in Love,
which will be premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Made on location in
London, Paris, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, it will be screened in
Britain this autumn.
film will re-focus attention on the punk movement and re-open controversy on the
tragedy of two lovers who seemed doomed to die.
Alex Cox, a 30-year-old, spikey-haired Liverpudlian, said: Sid and Nancy
were terribly nice people who went insane.
who knew them liked them well. They had the images of being monsters, but its
the really evil people who go round looking normal.
maintains he has not made a moralistic film. But I do think that its
anti-drugs and pro-love. I also think it offers a new perspective on two people
whose obsession with image was part of their problem.
a romantic love story. Its not the Sid Vicious story.
about Sid and Nancy - from the time they met in London until the time they were
film starts off very optimistic and funny, with tons of jokes and all these characters
making an exotic world out of a very grimy and mundane one.
as Sid and Nancy become more of a unit and less of a couple of individuals, it
gets a bit more intense and by the time they get to the States, it becomes quite
weird and very sad.
think it romanticises Sid and Nancy. I dont think it glorifies them. There
is nothing really glorious about them. They had big fantasies that they would
go out in a blaze of glory together and yet they never did. They both went out
were junkies and that was stupid too. The real Sid and Nancy were quite boring
at the end when they could hardly speak because they were so damaged and junked
out by heroin.
who co-wrote the script with American Abbe Wool, made the successful cult film
Dead in Love has run into controversy.
Rotten, who was with Sid Vicious in the Sex Pistols and now uses his real name,
John Lydon, is currently enjoying renewed success with his new band Public Image
is threatening to take out an injunction against the makers if he feels he is
manager, Keith Bourton, said: He is angry and upset that the film has been
doesnt want to speak about it. A cursory approach was made to him by the
actor playing his part, Drew Schofield, but he didnt want to make himself
available to be brain-picked. He has seen the script.
adds: People forget that Sid was his friend and he doesnt want the
death rammed down his throat.
was daft and was pushed around. He was manipulated by the music business. He was
such a sad human specimen.
will see the film and be looking at the legalities of it and we are going to make
a real fuss if there is any inference that John was instrumental or involved in
any way in Sids death.
tried to help Sid.
part of Sid Vicious is being taken by Royal Shakespeare Company actor Gary Oldman,
25. To get in shape for the role he had to lose 30 pounds in weight
in just six weeks.
his research for the part Gary went to a London drug addiction centre and met
Sids mother, Mrs Anne Beverley.
was the pivot of all my research, said Gary.
was very warm and open and helpful. She talked about Sid as a child, and as a
teenager, which helped me to build up the character.
the background information helped me to find a way to portray Sids vulnerability.
She gave me the padlock and chain which Sid used to wear round his neck.
was a very intense role for me."
Webb, a young New York stage actress, is making her film debut as Nancy.
filming, the script required her to hit some tourists and push a film producer
into a fountain at Trafalgar Square. She also did her own stunts - hanging upside
down out of a bedroom window.
seven years after Sids death, the punk movement still has its lemming-like
followers, replete with swastikas and frightening hairstyles.
them, the new film may become a homage to the late Sid Vicious. But for many more,
it promises to be a vivid lesson in how young lives can be wasted.
Chloe Webb as Nancy)
New Films By
(Sunday Express 1986)
love led a rock star along the road to hell
SID AND NANCY (Cert 18, 114 minutes) is the unloveliest love story I can
recall. And yet it exerts a horrible fascination.
concerns the relationship between Sid Vicious, bass player of the 1970s British
punk group the Sex Pistols, and his soul-mate, Philadelphia-born Nancy Spungen,
whom he stabbed to death in New Yorks Chelsea Hotel in 1978.
come their compulsive addiction to each other should have ended thus?
because, according to this new film by Alex Cox, they became trapped in a triangle
situation in which the third player was heroin.
you wish to contemplate a contemporary vision of hell, this film provides it,
laced with unsettling humour.
Sid is not yet a
junkie when he meets Nancy in London. True, he boasts the anarchism of his fellow
punks, ever ready to spray mouthfuls of lager on his adoring fans, smash up a
Rolls-Royce or announce his arrival even at a friends flat with a cheerful
brick through the window.
is not unlikeable.
is, you feel, inside 20-year-old Sids destructive pose, an inexperienced
little mothers boy longing to be liked.
is this need which groupie and junkie Nancy gets her hooks into. She has a driving
ambition to hitch her star to that of a successful rock musician and she tries
to take over Sid, introducing him to sex, and satisfying his curiosity about what
heroin does to you by hooking him on that too.
tragic consequence is that both become hoisted by her petard. Sid becomes so zonked
out on the deadly drug that he is rendered incapable of holding an audience, especially
on tour in the States.
subsequent efforts to get them both off heroin prove futile, even though he truly
loves her and tries rehabilitation.
her realisation of her own inadequacy, and her inability to be strong enough for
both of them, finally decides her to engineer death for both of them.
this grim decline, director Cox observes the punk scene with a frank and humorous
a touching sequence at Sids mums council flat, with Sid, ashamed of
Nancys slovenly ways, desperately trying to clean the place up before his
In the lead roles
Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb are outstanding, indeed almost too good for comfort.
I have seldom felt myself to be less in the presence of actors, more trapped in
the hell of the characters they are portraying.
is not known for sure how Nancy met her death. Alex Cox offers a plausible depiction
with Nancy, at the end of her tether, goading a reluctant Sid Into honouring a
suicide pact and contriving to get herself stabbed by him.
disgraceful, in my view, is a final shot showing Sid, on bail from a murder charge,
driving off with a smiling, beautifully dressed Nancy in a cab; a scene supposedly
of fantasy but shot so realistically as to make you think she has survived.
Sids death from a drug overdose while on bail is mentioned almost as an
puts across with devastating clarity the utter stupidity of experimenting with
it is never (unfortunately) Romeo and Juliet, Sid and Nancy is a powerful tragedy
of doomed love. Coxs message is that their hearts, too, had their reasons.
horror must be seen
By PATRICK HILL
young actress who plays the murdered girlfriend of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious
in a controversial new film last night defended its horrific scenes of heroin
she called for the censorship rules to be relaxed to allow young people to see
Chloe Webb plays drug addict Nancy Spungen in the movie Sid and Nancy.
contains several harrowing scenes as Vicious and Spungen are seen growing
increasingly addicted to heroin.
22, said: "I just wish that more young people could see this film, If they
could see the effects of taking drugs then Im sure many would not want to
is a dangerous and disgusting business. But because of the laws in this country,
the young people that it is aimed at will not be allowed to see It."
people aged I8 and over will be able to see the film.
died of a drugs overdose in 1979 while he was on bail, on charges of murdering
his American girlfriend.
actress and the punk stars mother Mrs. Anne Beverley met at the charity
premier of the film in the West End on Friday.
and compiled by Phil Singleton.
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