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From the fertile mind of director Julien Temple (The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, The Filth And The Fury etc etc) comes this potted history of old London town.

 Starting at the beginning of the 20th Century and charting the history of London and England through the peaceful times and the wars, the Edwardian debs, the suffragette movement, the jazz age, vaudeville, brown shirts and fascism, the sex drugs and rock and roll, the pop songs, the class system, immigration, racism and more, this is essentially a love/hate story from Temple. He shows us what is great about London but he’s not shy about showing the shitty underbelly of society as well.

With archival footage, word bites, interviews with various and varied folk including 106 year old (!!) Hetty Bower, unionist Brian Nicholson, politician Tony Benn, Suggs from Madness, former mayor Sam King, poet Molly Parkin and others, interspersed with cut’n’paste, songs, film stock, clips from his own past movies and the underlying theme of immigration, the class system, race, politics and money this is a heady mix at times but you soon come to realise that what Temple has done is show you that the more things change the more they stay the same.

The rich get richer, each new group of immigrants – be it Jews, Irish, Jamacians, Indians, Asians or Muslims is subject to the harsh side of ‘English Pride’ and racial discrimination before a gradual ‘acceptance’ into society, the class system continues to push the poor and working classes aside so that property developers can make more money, riots are not a new phenomenon, fascism rears its head before getting smacked back down, gangs form and dissipate, fashions come and go, music changes, mutates and starts again and London continues to just be at the centre of it all.

At 2 hours this doco should drag but there’s so much going on, there’s so many visual images, triggers, back and forth connections and talking heads, that surprisingly, it never overstays its welcome. A rare thing indeed and a testament perhaps to Julien’s mad genius.

Director: Julian Temple / Country: UK / Year: 2012 / Studio: Madman / Run Time:128 Mins 

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