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By Mark Bell | December 18, 2012

Antonino D’Ambrosio’s documentary Let Fury Have The Hour is a collection of intelligent people saying extremely insightful things about community, rebellion and the role of art and artists in offering a different way to look at the world to find solutions to local and global problems. The film’s launching point is predominantly the early ’80s, and the ascension of Ronald Reagan to power in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom. In both countries, focus became less about a community coming together and helping one another to a competition and isolation of the individual. And, as individuals separate from their communities in the quest to better only themselves, the mass becomes more easily manipulated. Divide and conquer.

At that same time, however, various tight-knit communities began to rise up in rebellion to the separation. Hardcore punk rock became a force, rap began to assert itself and the skateboarding world hit its stride, for example. For all the talk of the individual, artists were matching with talk of the global, often through artistic outlets and mediums that allowed them to express their views with a furious energy or rebellion. As the Clash sang, inspiring many in the film and beyond, “Let fury have the hour, anger can be power; Do you know that you can use it?” Which makes sense in the context of not just the artists in this film, but also the film’s overall creation, as it is inspired by D’Ambrosio’s own book of essays about the Clash that has recently been revised and expanded into a newer edition covering more than just the original subject matter.

Artists interviewed in the film include Chuck D, Ian MacKaye, Lewis Black, John Sayles, Eve Ensler and Shepard Fairey, to name but a few. For the most part the film has a framework or overarching theme that covers what I’ve written above, and points to the behavior or the artists interviewed as forms of their own creative way of responding to that which they disagreed with, and how by speaking up and doing something counter to a me-first culture, they helped foster communities and tribes of their own.

What results is an extremely good-looking documentary filled with these rebellious personalities mostly placing their fury aside to have intelligent conversation about where they came from and where we’re all going; or perhaps should be going. While the theme is apparent throughout, floating over all, the film often becomes a hodge podge of the artists making insightful points that may not necessarily line up; they share a similar tone, but they don’t always immediately come together in the layout of the film, which often feels unfocused.

At the same time, however, there is a strong forward flow to the edit and the pacing, so even though I came away at the end feeling that many great things were said in the moment while the overall theme got muddled in tangential discussion, the film is still very strong and inspirational for those moments (which is a little funny, the film’s individual moments being more successful than the film’s whole, as that seems to run counter to the entire theme of the project). I was in my early stages of growing up in the same years most of these artists were beginning to make their names and points, so I have a history and appreciation for what they’ve done already, but I think a film like this is that much more important for those coming up today, for a perspective for when they begin to run up against their own obstacles. It’s easy to forget that you’re always equipped to respond creatively to any problem, local or global, and hearing the history of others doing the same can be a great comfort and inspiration.

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