Archive of films Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson / The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson

United Kingdom
2015, 92 min

Section: Variety Critics’ Choice
Year: 2015

Onetime enfant terrible of the British punk scene Julien Temple has shot a remarkably optimistic and energetic film on historied rock guitarist Wilko Johnson, who fairly glows with his mellow good mood. All the more remarkable because Johnson has been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and has less than a year to live.


Onetime punk-scene enfant terrible Julien Temple’s characteristically playful, pop-culture-savvy approach to the documentary form might seem ill suited to the subject of mortality, but historied rock-guitarist Wilko Johnson’s unexpectedly buoyant response to the news that he has inoperable pancreatic cancer (and a life expectancy of about 10 months) makes for a film about saying goodbye that is itself void of grief, fear or regret. After checking off a couple of bucket-list items, Johnson has ample time to simply enjoy the heightened, near-euphoric sense of awareness he’s experienced since his diagnosis, which proves more liberating than traumatic. Remaining personal instead of retreading Johnson’s career, the film feels delightfully alive, inventive and droll, very much like its unassuming subject, and its perspective on terminal illness is a rare tonic.

Dennis Harvey

About the director

Julien Temple

Julien Temple (b. 1953, London) graduated from Kings College Cambridge. He first took an interest in film after discovering Jean Vigo, but his fascination with the 1970s London punk scene also played an important role. There he became friends with the Sex Pistols, shooting lengthy footage of their early performances. This cooperation culminated in two feature-length documentaries: The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle (1979) and The Filth and the Fury (1999 – Horizons, KVIFF 2001). Music films are a large part of Temple’s rich filmography, including music videos and TV movies with David Bowie, The Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, Neil Young, and Tom Petty. He has also tried his hand at features: the musical comedy Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), Vigo: Passion for Life (1980), and Pandaemonium (2000).


Moviehouse Entertainment
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E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, DCP
European premiere

Section: Variety Critics’ Choice
Director: Julien Temple
Screenplay: Julien Temple
Dir. of Photography: Steve Organ
Music: Chantelle Woodnut, Maggie Rodwell
Editor: Caroline Richards
Producer: Richard Conway, Andrew Curtis, Julien Temple
Production: Essential Arts Entertainment
Coproduction: Nitrate Film
Cast: Wilko Johnson, Roger Daltrey
Sales: Moviehouse Entertainment

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