Fugger Film Feast

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Below are links to a grainy, blurry, faded into an impressionistic painting of a documentary called DOA. The film is strangely enhanced by the poor quality. DOA contrasts Punk in the U.K. with the Sex Pistols’ 1978 tour of the U.S.A. These were the last gigs in the band's short and incendiary existence - until their return decades later. The yanks didn’t really get it bless them. They had to wait until Rollins and Biafra came along and saved them from the confused, pretentious, self-destructive mess that the Pistols mock here with their song New York.
(It’s a pity the awful Dead Boys are included in this film but they only stink up proceedings for a minute or so.)

When it comes to the U.K. side of things, this documentary isn’t as comprehensive as Don Letts’ The Punk Rock Movie but I prefer it for other reasons. DOA is loaded with fascinating and brilliant sequences. It nicely depicts the small existences that left a big impression. It’s happy and sad, boring and exciting, na├»ve and wise, ridiculous and fantastic  - all at the same time. And it's always sincere. It’s great filmmaking and is my favourite of the films I’ve seen about this musical era and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen most, if not all of them. It gives everything context.

Mary Whitehouse is here, sounding a bit like an idealistic old punk herself in a funny way. There’s a guy called Terry Sylvester in this too. He's certainly no musical genius but I enjoy him a lot. He’s not known at all really. Here’s a link to something about him and how he ended up in the film if you’re interested - http://www.rocknrollsnob.com/2010/03/04/who-were-those-idiots/
There are an awful lot of other interesting characters here too, bystanders and participants. You can’t help wondering what became of them. One of the few Americans in the film that I warmed to is the girl who has been thrown on the ground and couldn’t be bothered getting up. She addresses the camera without even bothering to lift her head.

Watching this for me is like watching bittersweet footage of ghosts or looking at the ghost of a time past that perhaps could come again - in a new way. We’ll have to wait and see. Those were dull and restrictive times that led to an exciting expression of freedom. Newton’s Laws of Motion state that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If the same is true culturally then take a look at the world around you - co-opted, corporate, crumbling - and expect the opposite.

A few final things of note: Watching this, I was reminded what a declaration of war against their homeland the Pistols’ song God Save the Queen was. It reached number one but the free society of Britain refused to acknowledge it (see the absurd image of the chart listings from the time included above). Also, keep an ear out for the moderate amount of preconditions that had to be met before the Pistols were allowed to perform publicly by the G.L.C. Hilarious stuff. Finally, do you remember making your own swings? Invariably dangerous things. Do kids still do that? Probably not. It’s all Parkour these days. Parkour is making your own swing on steroids I suppose. The ethic evolves.

Anyway, here’s the film, if anyone’s watching… I must check out Lech Kowalski’s other documentaries.