Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

April 20, 2009 at 11:58 am (Uncategorized)

I finally got around to seeing the Joe Strummer documentary, The Future is Unwritten;  only two years after it was released.  It’s simply a marvellous film.

The Clash were,  for many years, my favourite band. I only saw them once, in Toronto in the Summer of 1982, but I bought all their records. I still remember the day in December 1979 when I went down to the local record store in Wantage to buy London Calling the day it came out (it was raining). 

The Sex Pistols were the originators. It was seeing the Sex Pistols that led Strummer to realize the 101ers were the past. Yet, the Clash were the heart and soul of punk.  When I read Joe Strummer had died, I felt a real sense of loss. Someone close to me was gone.

The Future is Unwrittentraces Strummer’s life story  through the use of archival footage, and also interviews (often around a campfire), interspersed with music and clips from Strummer’s radio show on the BBC world service. .

What struck me about the film  apart from the style (similar to The Filth and the Fury, was the amount of archival footage, director Julian Temple was able to unearth. I’ve watched a lot of documentaries about punk, but there is a wealth of material in this I’ve never seen before. I wonder just how much other video is sitting in company or personal vaults gathering dust. If I had one complaint, it was that very few of the people interviewed were identified – some are instantly recognizable (Don Letts for example), but others like Palmolive were virtually unrecognizable.  

You can guess what I’ll be listening to this week.

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