Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (15)
Directed by Julien Temple
Screening at from 7th-9th June
I really enjoyed this film. The reason for that is that it was a celebratory
biopic of John Mellor (much much much better known to the world as 'Joe
Strummer'), and I think he was a really great guy. People who share my
opinion will no doubt really enjoy this film too! What more is there to
say? Well, I'd better say something.
If you've ever seen any biopic, you know what to expect. There's archive
footage, there's interviews with people who knew the person in question.
But here, the approach of punk's most famous documentary-maker Julien
Temple is quite refreshingly different in a couple of respects. Firstly,
almost all the interviews were conducted around a campfire, in a tribute
to Joe's love of that environment. The only exception to this is imperial
courtier and part-time rock star Bono, who got a well-deserved chorus
of boos at my screening. Even more uniquely, though many of those interviewed
are 'celebrities', their names do not appear on the screen. So when Bobby
Gillespie of Primal Scream appears, he is a Scottish bloke who was touched
by The Clash when he was working in a factory. And that's great in a way,
because this fact is much more important than his reasonably famous name.
Another nice touch is that Temple throws in some footage of things that
Joe wasn't actually involved in - such as the BBC film of 1984 with Peter
Cushing as Winston Smith - to give us a deeper impression of Strummer's
lifelong battles with authority, from school bullies to dictatorial record
The film ends with November 2002 footage, showing one of Joe's last ever
gigs, in support of firefighters striking for a decent wage and against
cuts. The final words go to the prince of gutter poets, who went from
privilege to poverty and back but whose 'heart' and brain always belonged
to the working class and its struggles:
"People can change anything, so let's do things from a level of
confidence and go for it!"