Florian Habicht’s documentary on Pulp was screened this month, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson explores a film which is as much an ode to Sheffield and its people as it is to a beyond-the-ordinary pop group.
Music documentaries are usually all the same. The standard biographical sequence of a band’s formation, rise to fame, fall from grace and then rise again has been done all too many times.
So often are these band biopics self indulgent, and to be frank, pretty dull, that a majority of these fly-on-the-wall type films with too many hours of rehearsal and old gig footage go straight to DVD anyway, only to be seen by the group’s genuine hardcore fan base. It takes an act with a really unique back story for it to stand out from the crowd.
Pulp are no ordinary band. Pulp aren’t self indulgent or dull. Pulp are indeed, a different class.
With the band at first reluctant to make the film when originally approached by director Florian Habicht, they eventually agreed to leave the New Zealand film-maker to devise the film through his vision, but to have it loosely centred around their 2012 show at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, Pulp‘s last UK show. The result, is an outsider’s view of the city, capturing the character of the places that inspired the band’s music, the people whose lives they have changed, and the character of a great, creative city.
The film takes you on a journey through the city responsible for one of the most important bands of the past 20 years, from the market where Jarvis Cocker once worked as a fishmonger, to council flats, suburbs and the park where drummer Nick Banks now coaches his daughter’s football team.
Along the way we meet the people that make Sheffield, from pensioners to butchers to cross dressers, giving a flavour of the great northern city, and how Pulp‘s music has touched its people.
Intertwined with interviews with each member of the band and touring member Richard Hawley, spine tingling footage from the Motorpoint Arena show, and a cafe filled with pensioners giving a touching yet hilarious rendition of hit track Help The Aged, it gives an emotional portrait of the group and their influence.
Unlike other music films, it doesn’t re-run the facts about their formation and release dates, which the majority of people watching will already know. Instead, it shows us the real people behind the music.
Pulp isn’t a film about a pop group. It’s about the people and places of Sheffield.
It’s about life, death and supermarkets. It is brilliantly funny and affectionate, with anecdotes from fans such as a cross dresser who describes how Pulp‘s music helped him find himself, and a group of people who had travelled across the world to be at the last show, queueing outside the arena for hours and breaking into a singalong of Underwear.
The strangers on the street are the real stars of this film. After all, Nick, Candida, Steve, Mark, even Jarvis, they too are just common people. Like you.
Further reading on Getintothis
Heroes to zeros – when does an album deserve 0/10?
Le Bateau: The boat that rocked Liverpool – the legendary nightclub closes its doors.
Blur’s Parklife at 20: A quintessential Brit masterpiece which changed a generation.
Top 10: Blur
Oasis Week: Top 10
The Double, Ayoade and the making of a very British warped classic
Science fiction and music: Ballard, Carpenter and the joy of synth
Goldfrapp present Tales Of Us: FACT, Liverpool
Only Lovers Left Alive: Jim Jarmusch, vampires and a little night music
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty – Terence Nance‘s ode to humanity