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End of the Century (2003)

End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones, The Ramones - End of the Century

Directed by:

Jim Fields

Michael Gramaglia

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 110 minutes

US Certificate: Unrated UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Anyone considering watching ‘End of the Century’ should know, before they even start, that it’s really aimed only at fans of The Ramones or – at the very least – people who have a significant interest in rock music and its history. People, in other words, who already know that not only are none of The Ramones actually related, but that none of them are even really called Ramone (it’s probably one of the few things that the legendary punk band share in common with the Righteous Brothers, who were neither brothers nor particularly righteous).

But, if you are a part of said target audience, then you should find yourself a copy of this one right now, because it’s a must-see. This in-depth rockumentary leaves nary a stone unturned as it tracks the career-path of the leather-clad cult favourites, from their backstreet beginnings as founder members of New York’s 1970s punk scene, right through to the group’s 1995 split, and on to the premature death of frontman Joey in 2001 and their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Directorial pairing Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia come as close as is probably possible to being completely objective in their presentation of the film, taking their time to show both sides of every story and never coming across as gushing fan-boys. They present us with raw, insightful interviews with each of the leading players in The Ramones’ story, as well as talking head slots from the likes of Debbie Harry, Joe Strummer and Captain Sensible. It all comes together to form a fascinating real life tale of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, which soon ditches its early background filler work to make way for a remarkably honest unravelling of how the band were gradually torn apart by conflicting personalities, power struggles and perennial in-fighting.

In the end, it’s perhaps fitting that this film – much like The Ramones’ two-decade back catalogue of music – is likely to go largely unnoticed by any form of wider audience. It’s a professional, interesting and at-times touching piece of work, but it’s one that only the fans will appreciate. They’ll be well used to that feeling.

It's Got: Marky Ramone telling a “funny” story about lobbing a fish head through a window. I guess you had to be there.

It Needs: To have had the directors doing the audio commentary. Is it just me, or would that have been a bit more appropriate?

DVD Extras Distributors Tartan Video have done a good job in padding out this nicely-packaged disc with extended interview footage, a deleted scene featuring Clem Burke’s ill-fated spell as “Elvis” Ramone, a short featurette on who wrote what on the band’s first three albums, and a host of trailers. And, if all of that’s not enough for you, there’s the slightly-bizarre option of audio commentary on the whole thing from Charles Shaar Murray and Danny Baker (yes, THAT Danny Baker, the fat bloke from ‘Pets Win Prizes’ and the Daz Doorstep Challenge). Version reviewed: The Ramones - End of the Century also available End of the Century - The Story of the Ramones (Amazon.com) DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Festival Express, Live Forever, MC5*: A True Testimonial, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, The Ramones: Raw

Summary

An engrossing, no frills, behind-the-scenes look at one of punk rock’s best-kept secrets.

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