The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle is the Citizen Kane of rock ‘n’ roll pictures. An incredibly sophisticated, stupefyingly multi-layered portrait of the 1970s phenomenon known as The Sex Pistols, unstintingly cynical pic casts a jaundiced eye at the entire pop culture scene and, if nothing else, represents the most imaginative use of a rock group in films since The Beatles debuted in A Hard Day’s Night.
Pic, which stars and is narrated after a fashion by Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren, begins with the basic premise that the campaign of shock tactics was premeditated.
A bubbling brew of devices and styles somehow mesh under firsttime helmer Julien Temple’s wizardly direction to amplify McLaren’s thesis on how to create a rock sensation in 10 easy lessons. Among his dicta are: Demonstrate To Record Companies The Enormous Potential Of A Band That Can’t Play; Make It As Hard As Possible For The Press To See It; Insult Your Audiences As Much As Possible, and Cultivate Hatred.