The Ramones: End of the Century

Directed by Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia
Showing at FACT from Feb 11th - 23rd

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

An excellent film documentary about a band who many believe led the way to the explosion of the British punk rock scene.

Incredibly, as is pointed out in the closing sequences, the Ramones took part in over 2200 gigs over a 20 year period - over 200 concerts per year! This constant gruelling schedule inevtably took its toll, mentally or physically, on members of the band.

Sadly, three of the four original members - Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee - have all died, two of them before the film, which took over ten years in the making, was completed. The only survivor is drummer Tommy.

Why didn't they get away from this debilitating way of living and retire from playing live - they had all made enough money to do so. The simple answer was they could not - it was an integral part of their life style.

The slick editing is very effective in the film. It included some fascinating concert footage of the band, a lot I had never seen before, in their home base New York, England and Brazil, where they were very popular, with their high octane and speed driven guitar playing.

It also contains interviews with the members and associates of the group, taken at different time periods, often speaking very honestly about the arguments, aggravation and general mayhem of life on the road. The sequence showing the time they spent recording an album with the demented record producer Phil Spector is wonderfullly bizarre.

Heartfelt tributes are paid to the Ramones from leading lights of the British punk scene, such as the Clash's Joe Strummer, who alas has also departed his mortal coil since the making of the film.

John Peel never got tired of saying how big an influence the Ramones had on him. He compared the first time he heard them on record as similar to the first time he listened to Captain Beefheart. They are in good company!