With the Japanese market receiving a release in 2003, now, in a special edition package with extras galore, the rest of world can experience Lech Kowalski’s 1980 rockumentary D.O.A.: A Right of Passage for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s most welcome to have the film on a modern format so the old punks don’t have to dust down their VHS tapes.
Filmed during the Sex Pistols’ tour of the USA in 1978 and juxtaposed with footage from the UK at that time, it’s a timely reminder of how bleak those suburbs of London were. Kids in parkas kick footballs against tower block walls as demolition surrounds them, whilst the dole queue for the adults grows larger. “The children are the sufferers” proclaims Mary Whitehouse. Not due to a political situation of course, but all down to punk rock and she’s “ashamed” by the whole movement.
As the Pistols land on American soil amid Visa troubles, the fashion on display reflects the times over the soundtrack of Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing. There’s also a big slab of irony as the Sex Pistols touch down in Memphis for (what would have been) Elvis’ birthday. For all the people on camera berating these vile young things, wasn’t it The King who caused outrage and a youth culture movement by getting his pelvis banned on television? Down with that sort of thing!
Will I be giving any spoilers as to how the tour concluded? You’re reading Mass Movement so you know how the movie ends. A slashed-up Sid plants his bass guitar over a disgruntled punter’s head and the band play their last show at Winterland before going their separate ways. “Were you trying to kick the establishment up the arse?” an interviewer asks a smacked out Sid in the infamous bed scene with Nancy Spungen. Sid’s asleep.
Footage is intercut with rehearsals of Billy Idol perfecting his lip curl with Generation X, Sham 69 telling the kids to have fun and not fight, Glen Matlock’s Rich Kids doing Pretty Vacant, and X Ray Specs kicking the shit out of the Hope and Anchor in N1. It’s back across the pond for clips of the Dead Boys too, which are bloody ace.
Just like those cowboys on that Pistols t-shirt, I like a nice package. D.O.A. hits the spot in that department. As well as the Blu-ray and DVD with reversible sleeves, you get a two sided poster and 12 page booklet with liner notes by PUNK Magazine’s John Holmstrom. Disc extras include a feature length documentary on the film as well as trailers, photo galleries and unseen footage of Malcolm McLaren. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Hell no. Whilst there was a whole lot more happening musically, this film’s angle is well worth your attention as a document of punk in 1978. Ginge Knievil