Review: ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’

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.

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.

The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle

UK

Production

Kendon/Matrix Best/Virgin. Director Julien Temple; Producer Jeremy Thomas, Don Boyd; Screenplay Julien Temple; Camera A. Barker-Mills; Editor R. Bedford, M.D. Maslin, G. Swire; Music The Sex Pistols

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1980. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Malcolm McLaren Johnny Rotten Sid Vicious Steve Jones Paul Cook Jess Conrad

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