Let Fury Have the Hour


Although it sets out to document a hopeful narrative of social change, Let Fury Have the Hour also demonstrates the clarifying and fertilizing effects of authoritarianism on artistic movements. In the first 15 minutes of the film, director Antonino D’Ambrosio lays out the history of the new, transatlantic conservatism that emerged in 1980, embodied by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, which ultimately enriched the upper classes, eroded the social safety net, ate a gaping hole in the middle class, and diminished organized labor to a state of near irrelevance. The new American culture, the film asserts, placed emphasis on personal acquisition and Randian individualism at the expense of the whole concept of the collective good. These attitudes persist today. As a result, a new kind of social awareness—and a call for dissent—was characterized by the works of Public Enemy, Keith Haring, the Clash, Gogol Bordello, John Sayles, and others. Hip-hop and skate culture came of age. The era, and the social attitudes it spawned, are related through interviews with many of these creative people, as well as members of the generation they subsequently influenced. The work of artist Shepard Fairey, playwright Eve Ensler, author Jonah Lehrer, and joke-shouter Lewis Black was informed by the same pervasive social currents that influenced Chuck D., Billy Bragg, Eugene Hütz, and Joe Strummer. The film joyfully surveys the evolution of a politically informed artistic movement, set to a soundtrack that includes MC5, Rage Against the Machine, DJ Spooky, and others. Chris Packham