I know this question look likes a duplicate but not really

It is against this backdrop that the film was made and so it is a little wonder that "The Great Rock'N'Roll Swindle" is the tale of the way in with McLaren viewed the Sex Pistols. The writing and graphics are his and his alone and the fashions are wholly his in the footage filmed specifically for the film and mainly in the archive footage. This is McLaren film.

Throughout the period the Sex pistols were active there had always been an intention to produce a film based around the band.

Past perfect seems strange here why did the author choose it

A) Because he wanted to make us understand that the idea of making a movie came first before the band was active. It seems strange because to make a film on the band,you need a band first.

B) Because the film was realised and as it was before he used past perfect.

C) Because it is a way to tell the reader that we are going backwards.

I think A is the answer

  • What is the source of the quote? Which parts of your post are quoted? You can edit the post to mark the quotes. If you start a paragraph with a greater-than sign (>), the paragraph will be marked as a quote. The greater-than sign needs to be the very first character on its line.
    – Jasper
    Nov 1 '15 at 15:48

Throughout the period the Sex pistols were active there had always been an intention to produce a film based around the band.

Why the Past Perfect tense? Well, notice the very first word in the sentence. It's a preposition (meaning "from beginning to end of") related to "the period". The actual duration is further qualified by the following phrase "the Sex pistols were active" (I think 'p' ought to be capital, but let's leave it for now). Combined all those words give you the adverbial phrase leading into the main clause:

there had always been an intention to...

It could stand on its own, too, but the presence of the adverbial phrase helps understanding the reasoning behind the use of Past Perfect.

If you search for explanations of Perfect tense applications, you can find this or that, but the most informative post was made canonical, and you need to study it. No doubt, there is a lot to take in.

Let's imagine that the Sex Pistols are still active today, and that they started being active some time ago (doesn't matter how long). We call that time "the period the Sex Pistols are active". From the beginning of that time up until now people often expressed desire to see a film based around the band, so we can presume the intention is also there, and it didn't just spring into existence, it appeared soon after the Sex Pistols became a phenomenon. Moreover, that intention did not disappear after it first happen to pop into somebody's mind.

For such continual presence from some moment in the past up to now we use the verb "be" in Present Perfect tense:

the intention has been...

Shift that whole situation in the past. The Sex Pistols were active for some time (they are not active now). That is "the period". Starting pretty much from the beginning of their activity until the very end we saw the intention to produce a film. What verb do we use? Why, "be" of course. In what tense? In Perfect tense. But not Present perfect tense. It becomes past perfect by rules of backshifting.

  • Ok I understand but what is strange to me is that past perfect should happen before past simple and in this case it's in the same time as past simple. But The idea of making a film came once the band was active not before or after in the same time.
    – user5577
    Nov 1 '15 at 14:16
  • @user5577, I don't understand your "should happen before". Perfect tense is used to describe repetitive occurrence of something. There has been many examples of Perfect tense used specifically for that purpose. Does that sound strange to you? Nov 1 '15 at 14:29

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