The Decline of Western Civilization (1988)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

An intimate look at the punk subculture of the 1980s, this Penelope Spheeris documentary captures more of the ambiance of the time than outstanding examples of the music subculture itself. The music of X, Circle Jerks, Fear and Black Flag are featured, however.

Rating: R
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Penelope Spheeris
In Theaters:
Spheeris Films


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Critic Reviews for The Decline of Western Civilization

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The result is both insanely funny and very frightening.

Full Review… | August 3, 2015
People Magazine

...a perfect symbol for the nihilistic hardcore punk rock that developed in Los Angeles - an angry and unwholesome scene that grew parallel to the more intellectual New York scene

Full Review… | June 21, 2015
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for The Decline of Western Civilization


a view from the pit at the height of the l.a. hardcore scene, circa 1980. blistering performances by black flag and x among others. film quality isn't great as this hasn't had a dvd release but it's well worth watching for those interested in a bunch of bored middle class kids bent on self destruction. i enjoyed it!

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

It was interesting, but I guess because I was alive for the end of this era of music, I don't really appreciate it

Remi Logan

Super Reviewer

This is the first and my favorite in the series. This look at punk music and the whole scene surrounding it is a great look.

Jamison R

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