Following on from yesterdays review of the 1980 produced Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle I now take a look at director Julien Temple’s second attempt at a Sex Pistols documentary… this time with interviews from the band themselves!


The Filth and The Fury is from the outset more traditional and serious in nature than its predecessor (although this is not difficult). The documentary uses interviews from all of the Sex Pistols as its foundation, as we hear their stories from them. This allows the audience to have a proper look at the history and a deeper insight into their lives and what happened.

Much of the footage that was used in Swindle is reused here but to a greater effect and impact. The random fictional elements are also completely gone as we go on a journey through the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols. This makes the film more intriguing but also less entertaining as the bizarre factor is gone.

The film does have a much more honest feel to it and the interviewees come across very well, with Johnny Rotten providing the best moments as he reflects on the past. It is particularly moving when Rotten discusses the death of Sid Vicious.

Bias though is still the films main downfall; it tells the polar opposite to McClaren’s story in Swindle and although production values and better filmmaking make it seem more honest it still forces the message too hard without giving a fully rounded story.

‘Fury’ makes out the Pistols to be a group of friends with idealistic ideas who where exploited financially and messed with mentally by McClaren. A lot of the focus falls on how much they enjoyed playing music and that’s all they wanted to do, but the way in which they say such feels rehearsed and there is a sense that there is more to the story. Rotten’s hate for McClaren comes across from the outset of his interview and only increases as the film goes on; whilst this makes the film more dramatic it is in dire need of a counter argument.

Random scenes from Richard III are randomly segued into the film for no apparent reason. I’m not sure what the purpose of this other than to distract the audience from the story and it is needless.

As with Swindle the film shows some great performances by the Pistols at various points in their career, focuses on the bigger hits rather than the obscure ones.

The Filth and The Fury is a great companion piece to The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and offers a slightly more balanced view. I believe that both films work better when viewed together as they offer two very different perspectives on the Sex Pistols.

It’s an interesting doc that does pack a punch, but ultimately fails to make any worthwhile point.