Fantastic Fest 2021- “Who Killed The KLF?” Is Anarchic (In the Best Way) : Film Review

In the early 1990s, crop circles began appearing in empty corn fields all across Europe. There was discussion that the agricultural disturbances could be the work of extraterrestrial life. In the end though, it was eventually revealed to be a stunt conducted by British music group, The KLF. Yet after one watches Who Killed The KLF?, they might be inclined to think that the group is of alien origin after all.

The KLF were considered musical innovators at a time where pop music was assaulted with uniformity. While the industry in the 80s were seeking fortunes from the next big hit, The KLF, just like their name, stood for nothing. The KLF, which consisted of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, created hit rave singles that were largely just samples of other songs; everything from ABBA to the Doctor Who theme to even the submarine from the film Das Boot. In short, they became prominent for their unique unoriginality.

What makes The KLF a singularity though is their total neglect of monetary gain. At a time when creations like Napster and Livewire were allowing music (and their artists) to be more accessible than ever to audiences, The KLF disappeared and destroyed all copies of their master records. It wasn’t until this year that The KLF managed to find copies to list on Spotify and Itunes. It’s a move that likely costed the duo millions in revenue over the decades, while also making them impossible to forget, if not for their sheer commitment to anti-capitalistic ideals.

In fact, Their rise and fall from fame as depicted in this documentary is peppered with seeds of anarchy: Paganism, Klan robes, and the Illuminati are just some of the beliefs that work their way into a band that sounds more like a terrorist organization than a musical act. The film isn’t afraid to reveal these unsavory sides of Drummond and Cauty.

That’s largely because Who Killed the KLF?’s greatest weapon is the voiceover narration that’s been assembled from tape recordings of Drummond and Cauty discussing the band that were previously thought to have been lost. Rather than editorialize and persuade the audience to think or feel a certain way, director Chris Atkins uses these tapes to let the band speak for themselves.

The self-described chaos of The KLF, with their unnatural rituals, musical oddities and peculiar ideals, may lead one to the conclusion that Drummond and Cauty are not from this planet. Either way you look at it though, Who Killed The KLF? has resurrected the duo, ensuring that they’ll never be forgotten.

The Silver Lining

Audio restoration specialists Steve Goldsmith & Adrian Sandu ‘Yota’ likely had some of the hardest work in making Who Killed The KLF? a successful documentary, given the film’s heavy reliance on old tape recordings for its narration. Yet Goldsmith and Sandu ‘Yota’ over-delivered, providing audio that sounds as though it was recorded days ago, rather than decades. It’s so well done that it makes one question if the voiceovers by Drummond and Cauty were done specifically for the film (they were not).

Who Killed The KLF? is coming soon to a screen near you.

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