Dead End Drive In - Now Showing: ‘Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang’ Print E-mail
Written by Jason Palmer   
Sunday, 09 October 2016 03:00

Anarchy coverPhil Strongman’s new documentary describes itself as “about the couple who singlehandedly changed the course of Western culture forever with their unique brand of subversive situationism and creativity”. For the film, Strongman has unearthed unseen footage about McLaren’s childhood, his 1960s activism, his key role in punk ‘anti-fashion’ and “compelling expose of the real birth of The Sex Pistols (with The Clash, Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant, Boy George, Don Letts, Tony Wilson, Tracey Emin and Vivienne Westwood)”.


OK, the 70s: depending on your age, this decade will mean different things to you. For me, it meant shit disco or prog rock being played by my dad for most of it, shit TV, shit fashion and - not known to me at the time (I am only young, honest) - political tension. For me, a lot of this changed in the latter part of the decade as Punk exploded onto the scene and everything it brought with it changed the world for good.


This film is part documentary, part history lesson and part autobiography. It starts with a brief summary of Malcolm's upbringing and also a wider look at the world and what was happening. We have the inevitable recollections of both family and friends, creating a picture of who Malcolm McLaren was and how he came to be one of the main musical and cultural influences of the 20th century.


There is some excellent footage including in this, and kind of has a who’s who of late 70s music and fashion scene, what it also has is an insight into McLarens political allegiances; it takes a look at The Situationalists, the Angry Mob and the whole anarchy movement both here and abroad and what do we find? We face the same shit today! I am never going to tow any party line, and have been known to kick against the system from time to time. Nothing wrong with a bit of punk attitude.


We get insight into Malcolm and Vivienne’s married life and interviews from one of their children. We get to see how Malcolm came to fall into the fashion business and to open his infamous shop on the Kings Road, how this then opened up other avenues and, of course, the conception and birth of The Sex Pistols.


There are lots of insights into the marketing and manipulation of both the Pistols and the media’s influence on the buying public: Mr Mclaren was a very switched on guy, he spotted an opportunity, timed to perfection and changed music forever.


Not everything he touched turned to gold - and in terms of the punk look, that’s mostly Miss Westwood. We get a look at Bow Wow Wow - timely for us as they have resurfaced on the music scene - and we also get a look at ‘Duck Rock’, which for me was a great fusion album, and also a bit of ,Madame Butterfly,.


This will not convert any McLaren haters, but it might lessen that hate. For the fans of that era, and also MM you will enjoy this. I love a nostalgic look back to the time of my formative years and what was going on - and if it wasn't for McLaren and The Pistols, what would music be like today? Scary thought… maybe no Slugfest!


I enjoyed this and for me it’s a well-made documentary about one of the true rebels… just imagine if he had become Mayor of London: oh, the fun he -and we – would’ve had!