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White Riot DVD Review

“White Riot” is the perfect documentary for now.

“White Riot” (which is named after The Clash song of the same name) is a documentary film about the late 70’s in the UK. More specifically, it’s about the formation of the Rock Against Racism (or RAR for short) movement that arose from the rise of the racist/anti-immigrant National Front political party. Through the perspective of RAR founder Red Saunders and a massive amount of archival footage, photos, letters and flyers, the film chronicles the launch of the Temporary Hoarding fanzine, the RAR concerts, and the now iconic 1978 Victoria Park gig which featured punk rockers like The Clash, Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson Band, and X-Ray Spex.

Director Rubika Shah’s documentary is certainly an all too eerie reminder of the past rearing its ugly head yet again as the parallels between then and now are tragically similar. As disturbing as the hate and violence is though there is hope and unity as we have seen both then and now. This documentary/concert film is about just that as it is both a celebration of activism and music (rebellious punk rock music especially) and the melding of the two with the RAR organization. At a quick 84 minutes, the punk fueled documentary gives viewers a historical snapshot of a time, a place, an era, and a short lived music genre that had a great impact both politically and culturally. It’s as timely as can be, but more than that, it’s a powerful reminder of what people and art can accomplish.

The only real downside to “White Riot” is that it’s sort of unevenly told. What I mean by that is it’s more politically based than it is music based even though it probably should be half and half. In fact, the music tends to be overlooked here as there’s a lack of full length concert performances. Most of what we do see is performance clips which are often interrupted by interviewee comments. For a movie that is partially about the power of this music, that’s rather frustrating. At least we get to see The Clash perform the title track though.


Presentation: 1.85:1. Grade: B+

Audio Track: 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo. Grade: B+

Extras include trailers for Film Movement titles “White Riot,” “Theory Of Obscurity,” “Mad Tiger” and “I Am the Blues.”


April 11, 2021 - Posted by | DVD review | , , ,

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