We’ve included this documentary, released in autumn 2020, in our Films We Love category. Screen Machine team member, Fiona, says: “I’ve enjoyed lots of documentaries about musicians over the years, in particular Oil City Confidential about Dr Feelgood, which Julian Temple directed in 2009. I was excited to see how he’d celebrate Shane MacGowan’s 60th birthday on film, and I loved his innovative use of Ralph Steadman’s animation, the study of MacGowan’s early years growing up in rural Ireland and the celebrity cameos.”
Rabble rouser, writer of tender ballads (including, of course, The Fairytale of New York), dentist dodger - Shane MacGowan is an iconic figure of the post punk Irish and British music scene. As his 60th birthday approached, Julian Temple pays tribute with this fascinating documentary, enlisting various of MacGowan’s friends, including Gerry Adams, to interview him and help prompt his memory.
From an early childhood with his god-fearing Catholic family in Tipperary, MacGowan and his family moved to London where he won a scholarship to the upmarket Westminster boys’ school. Expelled for supplying drugs, MacGowan fell into the burgeoning punk scene and set his intelligence and writing skills to songwriting that recognised his Irish roots. Decades later, he is recognised as one of Ireland’s greatest artists. As Bruce Springsteen said: “I truly believe … that a hundred years from now, most of us will be forgotten. But I do believe that Shane’s music is going to be remembered and sung.”
“Temple has always used archive material playfully; here, it’s particularly riotous, like a chaotic patchwork quilt tacked together by one of Shane’s drunk aunties.” The Guardian
“this is a tale told with love, compassion and humour.” NME