Refused Are Fucking Dead (Burning Heart/Epitaph)

The strong feelings and rhetoric espoused will likely leave the uninitiated wondering who fuck these guys are and why they were so important.

 

Formed in 1991 by close friends Dennis Lyxzén and David Sandström in Umeå, Sweden, Refused, whether they like it or not, have become one of the most seminal hardcore bands ever. Driven by their strident political convictions and idealism, Refused tore apart at the seams shortly after recording the classic The Shape of Punk to Come while on tour in the United States. In their final press release, they refused to speak about the true reasons for the breakup, maintaining their silence with an angry and reticent fervor for years. Now, guitarist Kristofer Steen’s short film Refused Are Fucking Dead finally puts the story of their final days on the record. Through interviews with each band member, the film tells the story of Refused’s early days, their rise in stature, and the night in Harrisonburg, Va., when local police abruptly ended their final show.

The most striking aspect of Steen’s film is how well constructed and strikingly good looking it is. Refused Are Fucking Dead isn’t just a beautiful film about a hardcore band, but a beautiful film, period. The pace and storytelling are well put together and even handed. However, it’s not perfect. The opening moments of the film foreshadows Refused’s final show and how it ended prematurely, white text on a black background stating, “In the middle of their set flashlights appear in the back of the room.” Accompanying this scene is a wall of eerie music building to a crescendo. Balancing this stimulus versus the actual event is a tad over the top. In addition, referring to their final show being shut down by the cops, as a “tragedy” is so out of proportion with reality, it’s ridiculous.

Unlike most band documentaries, Refused Are Fucking Dead isn’t a DVD for those unfamiliar with the band. The strong feelings and rhetoric espoused will likely leave the uninitiated wondering who fuck these guys are and why they were so important. Also, the degree of how seriously some members felt about the band isn’t likely to strike a chord with those who don’t have the fervent attitudes that punk manifests. This is a disc for those who loved and/or worshiped the band. Refused Are Fucking Dead is an excellent film, but it’s not for everybody. Along with the 37-minute feature, the disc includes a healthy amount of concert footage that covers the majority of The Shape of Punk to Come, as well as music videos for “Rather Be Dead” and “New Noise.”

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