The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
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Critic Reviews for The Decline of Western Civilization
A bracing, stimulating and technically superb close-up look at the LA punk scene, pic is pitched at a perfect distance to allow for simultaneous engagement in the music and spectacle, and for rueful contemplation of what it all might mean.
The interviews are mostly very funny, probably not always intentionally so. It's far from unmissable, but it's valuable rock history with some great noise.
The Decline of Western Civilization' is a shrewd and engrossing documentary even for audiences who have absolutely no patience for the music it includes.
This is the first in a trilogy of rock documentaries made by Spheeris that, viewed today, seem like valuable cultural documents. But your granny won't like it.
This often-fascinating slice of rock history wisely avoids high-profile punk groups, and instead opts for bands who are still struggling to pay their rent.
Audience Reviews for The Decline of Western Civilization
Perfectly captures the self destructive nihilism of the late 70s punk movement through interviews and great performances by X, Fear, Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Alice Bag Band, Catholic Discipline, and the Germs. Especially fascinating is watching interview and performances with Darby Crash of The Germs, in the months prior to his suicide. A powerful document of a moment in time.
Anger. Teen angst and frustration. Chaos. And of course X, Black Flag, Germs and others provide the perfect soundtrack. Penelope Spheeris introduces us common and peace-loving folk to the world of the punks. Some of us are well on our way there, but we have yet to know the music to accompany us. However, the negative stigma around punks is there as always, but Spheeris uses Decline to blow that stigma away. Wonderfully and masterfully planned and executed, the L.A punk scene in the 80s is both terrifying and exhilarating. And no, I'm not some chaos loving anarchist; I just like punk music.
It was interesting, but I guess because I was alive for the end of this era of music, I don't really appreciate it
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