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Vicious, Sid - Final 24: His Final Hours
While the music landscape is littered with many talented musicians who gave us a lot in a compressed period of time before succumbing to personal demons, few came onto the scene and left as quickly as John Simon Ritchie, better known to the world as Sid Vicious, bass player for the Sex Pistols. The punk band roared onto the UK music scene in the mid '70s with songs designed to thumb their nose at authority ("Anarchy in the UK") and those figures in it ("God Save the Queen") before bringing their act to the United States for a 1978 tour that culminated in the band's break-up. A little more than a year after the band's last show, Vicious was dead, the victim of a heroin overdose at the age of 21. The documentary series Final 24 attempts to piece together Sid's final hours.
The series Final 24 documentaries look at the lives of other celebrities whose lives have been cut short after tragic circumstances (other installments include those on John Belushi and Keith Moon) and they appear on the surface to be unauthorized biographies. In Vicious' case, he had few family connections, and those who were around him then aren't now. Interviews with friends and bandmates provide as complete a picture as possible and are combined with stills, concert footage and dramatic re-enactments. The interviewees include former Pistol Glen Matlock and the band's manager Malcolm McLaren. Those individuals, along with some old acquaintances of Sid, recall his behavior on and off stage.
One can almost immediately conclude when beginning to watch this 52-minute feature that while it does look at Sid's last 24 hours, it also looks at his life growing up in a single parent household, with a mother who was also chemically dependent, so Sid's eventual drug addiction was practically a foregone conclusion. His introduction into the fold of the Pistols is shown. While I expected to see a brief glimpse at the Pistols' success during that time, I was pleasantly surprised to see that absent from this feature, which tells me that the producers of the piece were committed to the topic without getting distracted. Sid's romance with Nancy Spungen is chronicled as well, and things start to pick up when her death is touched on; she was found in her and Sid's room fatally stabbed, and Sid was arrested for the murder. As to who specifically did the crime, the accused still remains a mystery, as Sid and Nancy were heavily on drugs and not coherent for periods of time, the theory that someone came in and killed Nancy to frame Sid still percolates in many minds.
Following Nancy's murder and Sid posting bail,he was distraught over Nancy's death, attempted suicide, and was sent to a psychiatric hospital in New York. Upon his release, he got into a scuffle and was arrested for assault. Within 24 hours after being released from Rikers Island prison, he was dead. The circumstances are unknown as to whether it was a full blown suicide, but details in Final 24 provide another more intriguing theory as to how Sid died, one that I won't spoil here.
All in all, the Final 24 installment on Sid Vicious isn't too bad, and is particularly interesting for those of us who like Sid and/or the Pistols and didn't know many details surrounding his death. It's interesting to see some of the stories from those people familiar with Sid, but as long as you can hold your nose at all the dramatic re-enactments with a Sid Vicious lookalike, it's worth checking out to put a little more historical perspective on this tragic story.The Disc:
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the final 24 hours of Sid Vicious documentary is replicated in its (likely) original broadcast format as accurately as one can get. It juggles vintage stills and concert footage against the recent interview subjects well, and there's no edge enhancement, haloing or other image touch-ups that deter from the viewing. It looks good.Audio:
The disc replicates its presumed two-channel Dolby stereo audio broadcast accurately and without complaint. There is no hissing or mosquito noise, and (presumably due to rights issues) faux Sex Pistols music plays over stills and other non-interview footage and is in the front channels clearly and harmlessly.Extras:
Nada amigo.Final Thoughts:
The Final 24 of Sid Vicious is not without its moments of cheesy dramatic enhancement, but as time moves on and peoples' memories fade, his life remains a cautionary tale for the proverbial "live fast, die young" rock star. Worth checking out for the curious and/or semi-familiar fan of the band or punk music.