Joe Strummer The Movie
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Review
The rock music enthusiasts among you must already be aware that the popular punk rock band ‘The Clash’ from the 70s and 80s era has already been a subject of an excellent documentary titled ‘Westway to the World’, a directorial effort of Don Letts. However, Julien Temple’s work ‘Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten’ has its own unique theme, which is, viewing the band in the context of its legendary lyricist and lead vocalist Joe Strummer. The documentary film is 2 hour long and of that 1 hour is dedicated specifically to the band ‘The Clash’. Even that hour focuses more on the struggles faced by the band to maintain its ideals when faced with immense commercial success. It isn’t specifically about the things that made London calling a great success. And rightly so! A great deal of what set ‘The Clash’ apart from its other contemporaries from the 70s was the amazing curiosity and wit of Joe Strummer. Once you’ve watched the entire documentary film, you’d gain a very good understanding of where that side of Joe Strummer used to come from, and how it shone to the maximum, right up until his untimely death in the year 2002.

Joe Strummer tells a good majority of that story himself, via archived radio broadcasts and interviews. Julien Temple fills up the rest of the details via one-to-one interaction with some of the old friends of Joe Strummer, and his ardent fans like Bono, Johnny Depp etc. Temple also adds some rare video recordings of The Clash’s rehearsal sessions, performances and some exceptional animations, stock footage and snapshots. ‘Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten’ tells you all that you ever wanted to know about Joe, the artist and the legend.

The character that comes across in the documentary film is definitely worth knowing. Joe was born in a world-travelling and respectable British family. He became a big hit in the punk rock circles during the early 70s and served as the front man of the extremely talented pub rock outfit 101ers. That was before he formed the band ‘The Clash’ with three restless young punks of his times. The raw power of his band mates and Joe Strummer’s immense experience, tempered by Mick Jones’ amazing flair for guitar melodies and nuances made ‘The Clash’ a force to reckon with, both in studio recordings as well as onstage.

The Future is Unwritten is a lot about the manner in which the band explored all sorts of rock and pop styles during its stint, and how they went separate ways in an amicable manner. Joe turned into a family man and did some acting stints, apart from being engaged in various other side ventures. Julien Temple does an amazing job at introducing viewers to the real Joe Strummer, the phenomenal guy. Most importantly, the documentary film provides an insight into the man who spent his last years working with all sorts of revolutionary ideas, in his last band called ‘The Mescaleros’. He toured around a lot with that band and spread the message of cultural unity and direct action among the youth. One of his famous sayings was, “We’re all alive, at the same time, at once”. That speaks volumes about the man and the message he intended to spread among his fellow beings.