- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2000

The Sex Pistols, the foul-mouthed, anarchic punk band notorious for wrecking guitars and hotel rooms, has found an unlikely new cause saving the planet.

Johnny Rotten and his band who once sang about Queen Elizabeth's "fascist regime" and declared there was "no future" are starring in a new film, "The Filth and the Fury," that they say will help to protect the Earth.

Language in the documentary feature, to be premiered in London this week, is typically ripe, with the group launching an attack on its former manager, Malcolm McLaren. But it is the world's first "carbon-neutral" movie.

Producers teamed up with the environmental group Future Forests and agreed to plant 500 trees, to absorb the carbon dioxide they said was created by editing and distributing the film.

Mr. Rotten, whose real name is John Lydon and who now has a chat show on American television, said he was "very excited" by the project.

He wants the trees to be used to create a woodland called the Filthy and Furious Forest. But the project has raised a few eyebrows in the film and music world.

Adam Minns of the magazine Screen International said: "It is a bit odd. Perhaps it's atonement for all the guitars and hotel rooms they smashed up."

One leading music agent said that Sid Vicious, the band's bass guitarist, would be "turning in his grave" at the idea of his former colleagues worrying about pollution.

Vicious died of a heroin overdose in New York while on bail for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, who was found stabbed to death in New York's Chelsea Hotel in 1978.

However, Julien Temple, the film's producer and maker of the 1979 Sex Pistols film, "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle," said, "The Sex Pistols were always unpredictable, so there is a certain logic to it."

The film includes previously unshown interviews with Vicious, Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, the band member who was replaced by Vicious.

One critic said after its recent American premiere in New York, "Nihilism like this makes you glad to be alive."

The strange marriage of green campaigners and rock music's most politically incorrect band was the brainchild of Future Forests, the group that persuaded the United Nations last week to make environment ministers' conferences carbon-neutral.

This involves planting trees to offset the emissions from the aircraft that carry delegates to the meetings.

The quantity of carbon dioxide generated by the film and the number of trees required to absorb it was calculated by scientists at the Center for Carbon Management in Edinburgh.

Working on the calculations that five trees absorb 3 tons of carbon dioxide over an average 100-year life span, the scientist said 500 would absorb the gases produced in the making and distribution of the film.

Future Forests has initiated other carbon-neutral projects, including last year's British tour by the Pet Shop Boys and the latest album by the group B*witched.

Dan Morrell, a spokesman for Future Forests, rejected claims that the "carbon-neutral" project was a marketing ploy. "If it helps the film to do well, then so be it," he said. "We want to make people aware that there is something they can do to help reduce greenhouse gases."

There is some evidence that filmmakers, even in Hollywood, are becoming more environmentally friendly. More materials from "sustainable" sources are increasingly being used for film sets.

The makers of "The Beach," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, planted hundreds of trees in Thailand after claims that they had damaged the environment.

Many observers doubt the "greening" of the film industry will catch on.

Mr. Minns said, "I'm sure that these people are genuinely concerned about preserving the environment, but I can't really see this being taken up.

"Hollywood and the rest of the film world is not a very politically correct place. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite. I don't think global concerns about the environment will ever be top of their list."

But Mr. Temple disagreed. "There is no future without trees, and it's time we woke up and did something about it," he said.

"Every film should remove the gases it pumps out into the atmosphere."

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