The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle

There are many things about The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle that make it great—the mix of animation and documentary footage, the blurred line between myth and reality. But what really stands out 30 years later is what a non-joke the Sex Pistols were. This 1980 film—the brainchild of recently deceased Pistols’ mastermind Malcolm McLaren and director Julien Temple—is now legendary for portraying the British punk icons as little more than a big marketing put-on. This is partially true, but it’s harder to swallow when watching the archival footage of the band in action. Their cover of The Stooges “No Fun” is as caustic as punk gets. (Yet the blank look on bassist Sid Vicious’ face during “Pretty Vacant” offers proof of just how vacant that dude really was.) Many have dissed McLaren over the years for being a greedy poser, but now that he’s dead and the Pistols’ music lives on, it’s a reminder that the swindle couldn’t have been pulled off without a real band. BRIAN J. BARR

May 28-30, 7 & 9 p.m., 2010

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