Back in the UK Temple made a series of films in the late 1990s including Vigo (1998), a story of the passionate relationship between Jean Vigo and his wife Lydou, and Pandæmonium (2000), a critically acclaimed film about the friendship between Romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth which won the Evening Standard Film Best Actor award for Linus Roache.
Then in 2000 Temple revisited the story of The Sex Pistols in The Filth and the Fury, an account of their history, this time from the viewpoint and with full cooperation of the surviving members of the band. Seen as setting the record straight, the film was critically acclaimed and embraced by the public.
In 2002 Temple started the feature length documentary Glastonbury, a vivid and personal chronicle of thirty years of the music festival. Temple shot the film over 4 years at the festival between 2002 and 2005, drawing on a vast amount of archive, as well as the footage sent in by fans of the festival and was released in April 2006.
The Future Is Unwritten, a film celebrating the life and times of his close friend Joe Strummer, punk warlord and leader of The Clash, followed. Another trademark montage film with archive, original material and animation it premiered at Sundance in 2007 and won the British Independent Film award for best documentary.
In 2008 Temple went back to the influences of Aria when he directed Eternity Man, a narrative opera film for Channel 4, ABC and Australian Opera, winning the Golden Rose award at Montreux 2009 and Silver Medal at the New York Television awards.
His most recent films include Oil City Confidential a documentary about the forgotten precursors of punk, Dr Feelgood, which won the main prize at the 2009 Turin Film Festival, The Liberty of Norton Folgate a conceptual live performance by Madness, There’ll Always Be An England which documented the Sex Pistols reunion concerts, and Find the Torch a television film about Paul Weller for C4.
Temple’s 2010 Requiem For Detroit? was his first film with a city as the focus and won the Grierson Award for Best Historical Documentary, whilst that same year his Imaginary Man for Alan Yentob at BBC, a biography of long term collaborator and Kinks songwriter Ray Davies, screened on Christmas Eve at prime time on BBC 1.
The following year started with another music documentary for the BBC, Kinkdom Come, switching his focus to Ray’s brother, Dave Davies. This was soon followed by Glastopia, a second film on the Glastonbury Festival, spotlighting the alternative arts and late night performers at the festival. Glastopia was premiered in place of the festival, which was on a hiatus, in June 2012.
In early 2011 Temple began work on his latest project, the immense London – The Modern Babylon, backed by the BFI and BBC. This widely acclaimed feature documentary was released theatrically in the UK in August 2012, launching internationally at the Toronto Film festival in September.
Julien Temple continues to make videos for the likes of Ray Davies, Pete Doherty and a posthumous Jimi Hendrix release, and is currently working with legendary producer Jeremy Thomas on You Really Got Me, the story of the intense love/hate relationship between brothers Ray and Dave Davies, which fuelled the creative force behind the legendary British band The Kinks.
While hoping to save his Marvin Gaye movie from a premature, financial death he's also working simultaneously on Rio 50º/Carry on Carioca, a favela flavoured X-ray of the soul of the playtime/gun capital and future olympic city of the Americas.
“Like a rubber dagger up the arse of the establishment”
- The Sunday Times
Julien Temple, born in London in 1953, attended Kings College Cambridge before going on to study at the National Film School in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
Temple discovered the works of French anarchist director Jean Vigo when he was a at Cambridge and his interest in the early punk scene of London in 1976 led to his friendship with The Sex Pistols and his first film Sex Pistols Number 1. A montage documentary showing the early life of the band in a series of short clips from television interviews and gigs.
Continuing the relationship Temple directed The Great Rock And Roll Swindle, a stylised fictional account of the formation, rise and fall of the Sex Pistols from the viewpoint of their manager, Malcolm McLaren, as he manipulated their ascent to notoriety. Praised for his praise his mash up usage of animated scenes, documentary footage, and his own shot material, it launched Temple into a career making music videos, working with such artists as Rolling Stones, David Bowie and the Kinks.
In 1981 he directed The Comic Strip, a darkly humorous and surreal documentary featuring the founder members of this influential British group of alternative comedians, most famously Jennifer Saunders, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson and Peter Richardson. The hour- long documentary is considered a masterpiece of insight into the bacchanalian Soho scene of 1981, it’s shocking content resulting in a R18 certificate.
The acclaim garnered by The Comic Strip led to Temple’s being commissioned to document The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball featuring Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese and Peter Cook, as well as musicians Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Sting.
Julien’s next theatrical release was the short film Jazzin' for Blue Jean featuring David Bowie which was released in 1984 as a support feature to The Company of Wolves. Jazzin’ For Blue Jean and the Kinks short, Come Dancing showcased a commitment to the idea of the music video as a feature film in miniature, with all the same commitment to the art and craft of film-making and story–telling.
In 1986 he directed the feature film version of Colin MacInnes' book Absolute Beginners starring Patsy Kensit, James Fox and David Bowie.
Temple chose to make the film a musical rather than a straight adaptation of the book, which led to it’s being criticized for a lack of conventional narrative. Absolute Beginners, like much of his music video work, reflected his ongoing interest in the history of film, using deeply saturated color, referencing American musicals of the '40s and '50s.
One of the most expensive films of British cinema at that time, Absolute Beginners was financially unsuccessful. This was partly blamed for bankrupting Goldcrest Films, and indeed ‘the collapse of the British Film industry’! and Temple found that he was held personally responsible.
Apart from directing one section of the auteur ensemble film Aria and Running Out Of Luck, a collaboration written with and starring Mick Jagger, the fallout from Absolute Beginners forced Temple to move to Hollywood (where the film had a niche following, including Michael and Janet Jackson) in order to carry on working.
His arrival in the US was possible after Ken Loache's producer, Tony Garnett
employed him to direct Earth Girls Are Easy in 1988, casting the young Jim Carrey, Geena Davies and Jeff Goldblum with music by Nile Rogers. The resulting film achieved worldwide cult status.
In 1991 he reunited with the Rolling Stones to make Live at the Max a New York concert filmed and released in the large scale IMax format. Around this time he also directed a series of music videos for many of the world’s biggest musical artists, including Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Neil Young and Tom Petty.
He returned to theatrical movie making with Bullet, a 1996 American crime drama set in New York. Starring Mickey Rourke, Tupac Shakur and Adrien Brody, the screenplay was written by Bruce Rubenstein and Rourke, credited under a pseudonym. Bullet was released in the US a month after Shakur's murder.