Film review – Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007)

Joe Strummer was the front man and lead song writer of the defining UK rock group The Clash who brought righteous ideology and diverse musical influences to the punk scene of the late 70s/early 80s. After The Clash split up Strummer dabbled in acting, broadcasted his own radio show, recorded solo albums and worked on other musical projects until his untimely death at the age of 50.

If there is anybody to make a documentary about Strummer, then it is Julien Temple – music film director (The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, The Filth and The Fury) and Strummer’s friend. Through a montage of intimate interviews around campfires (Strummer’s favourite communal activity), archival footage, clips from old British films and animation, Temple has created an entertaining and vibrant film.

Although he clearly wants to establish that there was more to Strummer than The Clash, Temple often overcompensates by rushing through key events, such as the release of legendary album London’s Calling. Also, the irritating absence of title cards throughout the film makes it very difficult to identify many of the people being interviewed. Nevertheless, The Future Is Unwritten is a fitting tribute and a must for music lovers.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 288, 2007

© Thomas Caldwell, 2007
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