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Sid and Nancy

Furious music, sickly bodies: this classic biopic offers a glimpse into the lives of the boisterous and dysfunctional first couple of punk music, with a fascinating performance from Gary Oldman - the movie is out in cinemas again this Friday

Sid Vicious was not a hero. He was the bass player of the Sex Pistols, but he didn’t live long to get his feet on the ground. He died of an overdose a few months later his American girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found dead in New York’s Chelsea Hotel. But to many young people of London, he represented an affront to a society that offered no jobs, no training, no education and no entry into the world. Still today we see punks on the streets of London.

The opening scene of Sid and Nancy is the arrest of Sid Vicious (played by Gary Oldman) on the day following Nancy’s death. The scene itself is a testimony of Malcolm McLaren’s opinion on Sid: “He is a fabulous disaster”. But according to John Lydon, McLaren was “the most evil person on earth”. He had put the band together and orchestrated the English punk rock scene in late ’70s. He had a talent for marketing, and for creating provocative graphics, but in essence he was a symbol of everything punks hate.

The film then moves back in time to when Sid and Nancy met and to some memorable concerts Sex Pistols played in the UK and in the US. They often did gigs in the Soho venues The Spice of Life and 100 Club (both still in existence), and led a mostly independent lifestyle. In other words, they lived in shit flats, with dozens of other young guys, and they were very naughty in public appearances, especially on TV, when they cursed a lot. Sometimes they were not even be able to finish their concerts. Sid was heavily involved with heroin.

The romance with Nancy is doomed from the start. Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb got that punk feeling into the film, despite Oldman’s opinion on his own performance: “I don’t think I played Sid Vicious very well”. Nancy was also a junkie, who could not understand why she was despised by her relatives. The scene in which she introduces Sid to her uncle and aunt is a cynical example of generation gap.

Oldman and Webb performances are an reflection of the stars’ real lives, in which the noise and the fury give birth to alienating days and nights. Sometimes, the couple was so weak they couldn’t leave their hotel in order to get a pizza.

Sid and Nancy is a film that portrays the modern man. The modern man no longer belongs to a people, a tribe or a clan. He lives in the absolute solitude of a metropolis. And maybe this is why we are still celebrating punk movement to this date.

A restored copy of seminal biopic Sid and Nancy is being launched this week in order to celebrate 40 years of punk. The 1986 film directed by Alex Cox’s (Repo Man, 1984; Walker, 1987) previewed last week in Bristol, as part of Cinema Rediscovered Festival, and it is being released in UK cinemas this August, 30 years after its initial release.

The launch party will take place on August 29th at Screen on the Green, where on the same day in 1977 The Clash and the Buzzcocks supported the Sex Pistols at their famous ‘Midnight Special’ showcase event organised by Malcolm Maclaren. The evening will include a screening of ’Scorpio Rising’, a film shown at the event in 1977, and a DJ set from music legend and punk filmmaker Don Letts. Just click here for more information.

You can watch the film trailer below:


By Maysa Monção - 04-08-2016

Maysa Monção is a Brazilian writer, teacher, translator, editor and art performer who currently lives in London. She has a Masters Degree in Film Studies from Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy, ...

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