ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson★★★★★ 10.35pm-12.10am BBC1
In January 2013, 64-year-old guitarist Wilko Johnson, formerly of Canvey Island pub rock pioneers Dr Feelgood, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Refusing chemotherapy, he embraced the clarity brought on by his imminent demise and announced a farewell tour. Partisan director Julien Temple, whose documentaries have captured the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer and Dr Feelgood (Oil City Confidential, in which Johnson shone), employs his usual expressionistic blending of interview and archive to create a film both esoteric and down-to-earth. Themed extracts from La Belle et la Bete, Orphee and The Seventh Seal sit comfortably with Johnson’s love of poetry, literature and astronomy, an academic depth that belies his image as a duck-walking disciple of rock ’n’ roll. His near-miraculous reprieve after surgery in 2014 gives the film its final act, which is as honest as the first, if more contemplative. This incredible, personal story about an inspirational, no-nonsense figure resonates far beyond the music scene it also thrillingly depicts.
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