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    Glastonbury Unplugged

    Since it's the 'T In The Park' weekend it seems only fitting to devote much of this week's column to the DVD release of Julien Temple's enjoyably grubby documentary Glastonbury (available from 16 July).


    glastonburymud.jpgIf only because it captures something of the spirit of a music festival without having to endure thousands of sunburnt Neds hurling half-drunk pints into the crowd while doing vocal approximations of the guitar riff from Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out.


    Piecing together archival material, interviews and concert footage, Temple has created a definitive and unsentimental history of the 35-year-old Glastonbury Festival, charting its rise from a minor, sub-Woodstock gathering in the early 1970s to a focal point for the politicised 1980s, to the corporate-sponsored "life experience" it is today.It's this latter development that's the most fascinating: Glastonbury has always been a celebration of the counter-culture, but how does it remain so now that it's attended by mobile phone-using revellers who on the one hand fret about whether the security fences have killed the event, but on the other are secretly pleased that all those crusty travellers no longer attend in such high numbers?


    Not that the film will make you misty-eyed about those travellers. True, they had a rough time in the 1980s thanks to systematic police beatings, but it was warring factions of travellers who turned the 1990 festival into a riot zone by lobbing Molotovs at each other.


    If there's one disappointment, it's the music. There are plenty of good bands, and the DVD is interactive, so whenever David Gray or Coldplay come on you can watch The White Stripes or Primal Scream instead. Yet aside from a snippet of Radiohead from the mid-1990s and footage of the late Joe Strummer protesting Britain's CCTV culture by taking his mic stand to the cameras, there's nothing that could be described as "legendary" - unless you count Rolf Harris. As for why it's endured, organiser Michael Eavis credits the British ability to put up with grief and grime and still have a jolly good time.


    Speaking of grief and grime, there's plenty of both in The Proposition (out on Monday), a fly-blasted Western set in the Australian outback and scripted by Nick Cave (himself a Glastonbury veteran who appears in Temple's film). Ray Winstone stars as a transplanted British lawman who offers Guy Pearce's captured outlaw a Faustian deal: either he kills his psychotic elder brother (the magnificent Danny Huston) or he'll hang their younger brother on Christmas Day. The resulting film is a dark lyrical effort about the consequences of violence and the brutal origins of a modern civilisation. Hell on earth has never looked better.


    Source: http://living.scotsman.com

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