British punk's two most infamously self-destructive teens are entering the hallowed halls of the Criterion Collection. But not without a makeover. The haunting cult biopic Sid & Nancy (1986), which tracks the fast lives and swift deaths of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, has undergone a fancy 4K restoration for a Criterion Collection release. The new version includes the 1987 behind-the-scenes documentary England's Glory, the infamous 1976 Sex Pistols interview that had Bill Grundy banned from British TV, interviews with Vicious and Spungen from the 1980 doc D.O.A.: A Right of Passage, and audio commentaries by Sid & Nancy leads Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb.
Legendary music journalist Jon Savage has written an essay for Criterion to celebrate the restoration. Savage, who chronicled the Sex Pistols in his award-winning punk history England's Dreaming, talks about the difficulty of recapturing the punk spirit in 1986. "Deep into second-term Reagan/Thatcher, American and British pop culture were infected with cynicism, hopelessness, immobility," he writes. "So when Alex Cox came over with his swagger and boyish enthusiasm and tried to instigate a bit of healthy anarchy, what happened? Everybody sneered."
In addition, Sid & Nancy was shot while British punk was celebrating its 10th anniversary. The crew was understandably loathe to have their biopic lumped in with the tacky fashion editorials and generic think pieces that local media was thick with at the time. Part of what saved Sid & Nancy is that it isn't a British film. The second half takes place in New York, where Nancy was eventually found dead on the floor of a bathroom in the Chelsea Hotel. Apparently Malcolm McLaren once told Savage, "I don't see Johnny Rotten on a T-shirt on the Lower East Side. I see Sid all the bloody time."
Text Hannah Ongley
Image via YouTube