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Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets

Yesterday Pitchfork streamed a documentary on their website about one of the little City of Sheffield’s greatest ever exports.

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets documents the day leading up to their eagerly anticipated homecoming show, with on-the-street insights into Pulp and Jarvis from the ‘real’ Common People of the Steel City.

But bizarrely the stream was only available in the US – it had it’s original outing at Sheffield’s Doc/Fest earlier in the year – but has since been unavailable to the eyes of the British public.

Here at Far Out we got our hands on a sneak peak, so in case you missed it, here’s what we thought.

In 2012 a discontent Jarvis Cocker decided he had some loose ends to deal with, and despite admitting that tidying up isn’t the greatest rock and roll motivation he knew that Pulp could not be left to rot in its current state.

The result was a run of UK shows, climaxing with a triumphant home-town return to Sheffield’s (no so) iconic (but suitably large) Motorpoint Arena.

Directed by New Zealand film-maker Florian Habicht – at Jarvis Cockers’ request – it’s a mish-mash of interviews with the band and fans amidst concert footage from the Motorpoint – while admittedly it does feel like the film should have been one or the other – it does provide a rare insight into the effect Pulp had on the people of Sheffield.

It’s unclear how much time Habicht has spent in Sheffield, but what is inherently obvious is his sense of intrigue and affection for the place.

The stunning way he depicts Sheffield through wide establishing shots of some of the city’s most iconic landmarks will have anyone gazing in ore of how something so industrial can look so scenic, not unsimilar to Shane Meadows’ kitchen sink approach to This is England.

It’s Habicht’s choice of portrayal of Sheffield locals and Pulp’s fans that is slightly confusing though.

Despite all claiming to be life-long Pulp fans, one when questioned admitted his favourite Pulp song was ‘We Are The Champions’ and another insisted that Joe Cocker was in fact Jarvis’ uncle, another who was filmed at a local swimming pool explains how she made her own Jarvis Cocker underwear(!) – all of them however allude to Jarvis Cocker’s Pulp being one of the greatest things to happen to Sheffield.

It’s unclear whether Habicht is poking fun at anyone here or whether he’s intentionally looked past what typically makes you a music fan to forefront the effect the return of this band had in uniting a City and a community with the love of one common heritage.

At one point we see an all female choir performing a bizarre, but mechanically brilliant a cappella version of ‘Common People’, then an old man in a greasy spoon strumming the chords to ‘Help The Aged’ on a banged up acoustic while café workers and customers sing along.

It’s certainly not you average music documentary and while we don’t get as much of an expansive insight into the mind or habits of Jarvis Cocker, he does provide plenty of food for thought.

The footage of Pulp from the Leadmill and Richard Hawley browsing vinyl in Rare and Racy on Dev Street, will be more than enough to satisfy Pulp fans and Sheffield patrons alike – but we felt like it raised more intrigue than it addressed.

Will De Nardo