Music documentaries rely on a few things to generate interest in them, and you’d think that a documentary called ‘The Rise and Fall of The Clash’ entailed a requirement for knowledge of the popular punk rock band to obtain any sort of involvement or engagement from a film so intensely linked to them, but it tries to ensure that you can get interested in the dynamics of the band and the effects of fame and fortune on people for whom the punk movement means a lot more than just being rich.
Its format is standard fare for documentaries of its kind, using interviews with various people related to the band, from members to security guards and superfans, to chart their rise and fall and speculate about the reasons for their demise. While the interviews can be interesting and certainly make the band dynamic something that can be engaged with even for the most ignorant about the band, it does seem like a lot of the film is geared simply towards providing the fans with more closure about the end of their favourite band, feeling for long stretches like it should be part of a deluxe release of one of their albums rather than a standalone film.
Other music documentaries like ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ focus on much more than just the artists, and in the former’s case examine a musician’s cultural impact in an engaging manner that delved further than just interviews and voiceovers. It’s this added touch that stops something from being just another tale of drugs and unpleasant people falling out, and adds something that it is much easier to connect to and engage with, even if you aren’t the biggest fan. Ultimately this is where this film shows its distinctly average quality, and despite managing to obtain all the right people to interview, it feels like nothing more than a student project on a favourite band but with a larger budget. Fans of The Clash will almost certainly be intrigued and interested to hear a bit more about the events surrounding the band in their glory years and their demise in to mediocrity, but there comes a point where one simply stops caring. ‘The Rise and Fall of The Clash’ is perfectly serviceable, but would be much more at home included in a special edition CD than as a serious music documentary fit for a much wider release.