SID AND NANCY directed by Alex Cox DVD (Criterion Ed.)

Punk rock was a glass teetering at the edge of a table; an anticipatory moment when everyone knew something would happen—the glass was going to fall, but none knew when or by whose hand. Perhaps it wouldn't shatter, but rather fall right through the floor. The resurgence of interest in this explosive moment has fostered a wealth of historical tracts such as Jon Savage's England's Dreaming and Greil Marcus' Lipstick Traces, both of which attempt to delineate the details of an eruption—to trace the scattering of fragments from the smashed glass back to its original form.

Director/Writer Alex Cox's 1986 film Sid & Nancy, now released on DVD by Criterion, focuses on one particularly notable fragment of the punk cataclysm—the collapse of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and his love, Nancy Spungen. The film is a romance, occurring not in its backgrounds of London or New York, but in the swirled minds of two junkies. Sid and Nancy are containers, draining themselves to fill up with something much more comfortable. Cox makes us drink their abandoned lives, and by the end we've so fully imbibed their world that everything outside seems far too clean.

The DVD (like the double laserdisc edition issued in 1995) collects extensive supplements which illustrate the cultural significance of Sid, Nancy and the Sex Pistols:

  • a wild documentary of the film's production,
  • essays by Jon Savage and Nick Kent which viewers ˜step' through in several screens of text and rare photos,
  • the seldom-seen yet infamous Pistols television interview which sent their name ricocheting across the U.K.
  • crucial audio commentary throughout the film from actors Gary Oldman and Cloe Webb, critic Greil Marcus, filmmaker Julien Temple, and screenwriter Abbe Wool.

The entire contents are deftly framed in the Pistols' characteristic irreverent collage-art and endearingly document the bruised ruction of Sid and Nancy.

-Dave Clifford


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