The Decline of Western Civilization

The Decline of Western Civilization

Penelope Spheeris (1980)

100min
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Review

Our Score
Penelope Spheeris's cult documentary takes an unflinching and non-judgemental look at the Los Angeles punk scene at the fag end of the 1970s. She blends live performances from anonymous bands such as Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Fear (who were a particular favourite of John Belushi) with revealing contributions from managers, fans and the group members themselves. While most use the camera as a mirror for their preening, some are surprisingly articulate about their lifestyle - the downside of which is illustrated in the interview with Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs, who ended up on a mortuary slab before the film was even released. Spheeris had previously directed short films for US TV's cult comedy show Saturday Night Live, which made her the perfect choice to later direct Wayne's World. 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.

Cast & Crew

TBC Alice Bag Band
TBC Black Flag
TBC Catholic Discipline
TBC Circle Jerks
TBC Fear
TBC Germs
Director Penelope Spheeris
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourAvailable on: DVD and Blu-ray