Teenage (2014)



Critic Consensus: Using a smartly assembled blend of archival footage and well-made re-enactments, Teenage surveys the rise of adolescent culture with tenderness and wit.

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Once, 'Teenagers' didn't exist. But then, they were invented. With a changing tide the world over and a struggle erupting between adults and youth, the concept of a new generation took shape. Whether in America, England, or Germany, whether party-crazed Flappers or hip Swing Kids, zealous Nazi Youth or frenzied Sub-Debs, it didn't matter - they were all a new idea of youth. They were all 'Teenagers.' TEENAGE is a living collage of rare archival material, filmed portraits, and voices (provided by Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer, Jessie Usher) lifted from early 20th century diary entries. Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) punctuates the narrative with a contemporary score.(C) Oscilloscope
Documentary , Special Interest
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Jena Malone
as American Girl
Ben Whishaw
as British Boy
Julia Hummer
as German Girl
Jessie T. Usher
as American Boy
Daniela Leder
as Melita Maschmann
Leah Hennessey
as Brenda Dean Paul
Ben Rosenfield (II)
as Tommie Scheel
Ivy Blackshire
as Melita Maschmann
Malik Peters
as Warren Wall
Jessie Usher
as American Boy
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Critic Reviews for Teenage

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (19)

A roughly chronological jumble of archival footage, unconvincing period reenactments, gauzy voice-overs, and half-baked ideas that makes one yearn for the stolid dullness of a History Channel documentary.

Full Review… | May 22, 2014
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Deftly weaves together various media in a way that breathes its own youthful, stream-of-conscious life into the documentary genre.

Full Review… | May 22, 2014
Washington Post
Top Critic

There's no "there" there in "Teenage," a meandering mess of a documentary that has the feel of a bloated, inchoate term paper.

May 8, 2014
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Wolf's sympathy for youth movements compensates for the distraction of the new scenes, and the fascinating old footage seals the deal.

Full Review… | April 24, 2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

If Teenage delivers a sweeping generalization or two (or three) ... Wolf's documentary makes up for it with footage that's just too good to be ignored.

Full Review… | April 17, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Director Matt Wolf uses startling archival footage to capture the rise of pre-Elvis youth culture as the defining surge of the 20th century.

Full Review… | March 21, 2014
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Teenage

A companion piece to the book Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, 1875-1945. As the title states we're exploring the development of youth culture from 1875 to 1945. So, this film does not venture into teen culture of the 1950s, 1960s, or beyond. This was the most disappointing part, that the doc did not draw any connections between this time period and the decades to come. The young actors styled to look like teens of various times and places with journal entries narrated to tell their specific stories worked well. However, it is all the archival materials that bring the formation of the term teenagers to life.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

This was an interesting documentary about young people in America, England and Germany from the industrial revolution until just after WWII, when they started using the term teenage. I would suggest watching it.

Kevin Hawkins
Kevin Hawkins

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