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New series about the sex pistols written by Danny Boyle
The BBC boycotted their music, and after only one album, Sex Pistols broke up. Director Danny Boyle filmed the autobiography of Pistols guitarist Steve Jones as a series.
There was one important thing for Steve Jones to stress before starting the Pistol. “It is not a documentary,” the founder and guitarist of Sex Pistols explained in a phone conversation with the German news agency dpa in London. The six-part series about what may be the world’s most famous band, which can now be seen on streaming service Disney+, is based on Jones’ autobiography. “It’s a story,” Jones said. “It’s my story.”
The Sex Pistols have released only one studio album – Don’t Mind the Pollux, Here’s the Sex Pistols – and they are still considered one of the most influential groups in music history. Pistol tells the turbulent story of the rise and fall of a punk band in the second half of the 1970s and beyond until guitarist Sid Vicious died of drugs.
It’s safe to assume that 67-year-old Jones’ memories don’t quite line up with those of his former bandmates, particularly captain John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten. The singer complained that the series was a “fairy tale” that had nothing to do with the truth except without seeing it. Jones counters: “It’s true, most of it is true.” The chronology of events has been changed and a little entertainment added. “It should be fun,” Jones says.
Director Boyle: ‘Great opportunity’
It is directed by Britain’s Danny Boyle, who will return to television after several successful films such as “Trainspotting”, “28 Days Later” and “Slumdog Millionaire”. “I love music. Everything I’ve done so far has been deeply influenced by music,” Boyle, 65, who filmed the BBC series in the 1980s and 1990s, told dpa in an interview. “Demonstrating a moment when music had such a dramatic impact on society was just a wonderful opportunity.”
For the miniseries, he brought in a number of actors who are largely unknown but excellent in front of the camera. Anson Bohn is particularly impressive. The 22-year-old doesn’t look much like Johnny Rotten, but he masters his looks and facial expressions perfectly and speaks – assuming you’re watching the original English version – like the forever angry frontman, who has long called himself John Lydon repeatedly.
Thomas Brody-Sangster (“The Queen’s Gambit”) is glorified as the director of the Sex Pistols and self-proclaimed founder of the band Malcolm McClaren, who is said to have pitted the members against each other—one-time Jones and Lydon agree. Also convincing is Tallulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood and Sidney Chandler as former singer Chrissy Hende. Keyword entertainment: Jones’s relationship with Hind is clearly “promoted” in “Pistol,” as he himself admitted.
Jones himself is played by Toby Wallace, who taught him by hand to play guitar in his Los Angeles home. “It’s a little weird to see someone play me,” says Jones, who was not fully involved in the production process. “Because Danny Boyle was in charge, I thought, ‘I’m going to let the guy do that. Because he’s a great director and he’s from that period.”
Milestones of the band combined with imagination
Boyle combines well-known sexist highlights, some of which have been meticulously recreated, with elements of a fictional or at least dramatic story and frequently includes archival material from 1970s Britain. Much was filmed in London. “It was very difficult, because London has changed so much,” Boyle says. “It’s almost intimidating. Finding places that look like they were in the 70s is almost impossible.” But he succeeded in creating a nostalgic image of the city that seems original.
Sometimes the “pistol” gets a little carried away with kitsch and introduces obvious clichés. In addition, one of the other episodes is very difficult and very long. But overall, the six episodes are very entertaining. This is also due to the sensational soundtrack of music from that time – not just from the Sex Pistols.
John Lydon tried in court to prevent the band’s music from using the song “Pistol”, but failed against his former bandmates. Steve Jones was accused of going out for money only. Jones does not deny it at all. “Of course I want to make money,” he says. “Everyone wants to make money.” “We weren’t making a lot of money at the time. Really! So I’m totally interested in making money and maintaining the Sex Pistols brand.”