Anarchy! The McLaren Westwood Gang review – scrappy tribute to Sex Pistols mischief-maker

Phil Strongman uses archive interview footage to place McLaren and punk in the tradition of anarchism, situationalism and pop art

There’s something appropriately anarchic about Phil Strongman’s scrappy but nonetheless watchable documentary tribute to Malcolm McLaren, the uncategorisable flaneur, entrepreneur, poseur, artist-manqué and mischief-maker who died in 2010, having invented the Sex Pistols. This film looks a bit patchy, occasionally the audio quality isn’t of the highest and, despite the title, there is hardly anything about Vivienne Westwood. (Strongman uses what appears to be archive interview footage of McLaren.) Yet like Julien Temple and Greil Marcus, Strongman places McLaren and punk in the tradition of anarchism, situationism and pop art, with interesting supporting material and claims that McLaren always wanted to be the “British Andy Warhol”. A shrewd guess, and it could be true. Unfortunately, McLaren didn’t have Warhol’s stamina and his gift for flattering celebrities, and he was maybe a little too sardonic and dyspeptic to have Warhol’s career. He was a one-off.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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