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Decadence: Decline of the Western World (2011)

The goal of every culture is to decay through over-civilisation; the factors of decadence - luxury, skepticism, weariness and superstition - are constant. The civilisation of one epoch becomes the manure of the next.

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Credited cast:
Haji Usman Gani Ansari ...
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Toni Ballarin ...
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Shmuley Boteach ...
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John Carroll ...
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Erminia Ceruti ...
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Hedayat Matin Daftari ...
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Paul Dunstan ...
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Richard Eckersley ...
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Elizabeth Fregeau ...
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Till Gelpke ...
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Susan Gelpke-Doran ...
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Susan Greenfield ...
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Clive Hamilton ...
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Storyline

All civilisations rise and fall. For 300 years, the Judeo-Christian West has been the world's pre-eminent civilisation. So, where is the West on the timeline? Many have theorised about the fall of the western world but now we appear to have the evidence. Negative birth rates, ageing populations, debt-laden economies and immigration - the West consumes without consequence, loves without longevity and lives without meaning. Decadence, a simple powerful essay-style documentary, asks if the West has peaked? And due for a new renaissance or a final dark age? Written by Pria Viswalingam

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west | civilisation | fall | aging | east | See All (11) »

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Decadence asks; A final dark age, or a new renaissance?

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Documentary

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1 December 2011 (Australia)  »

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Worth seeing more than once
27 October 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

'Decadence' is an excellent documentary that deserves a bit more attention. I caught it by accident on the Smithsonian Channel, of all places, and it hooked me right away.

Director and host Pria Viswalingam takes viewers on an tour of the various ways in which Western society has become dysfunctional. This includes the breakdown of the traditional family, the new role of sex, the runaway power of corporations, and, ultimately, our loss of spirituality and corresponding shift to mindless materialism.

The tale is told with lots of excellent location photography, and some really worthwhile interviews with people you haven't seen a million times before. I particularly liked how Viswalingam inserts himself as a silent background presence in some of the 'candid' scenes of everyday life. It's a clever bit of technique.

This is not to say that I agreed with everything Viswalingam has to say. For instance, I totally disagree with his conclusion: that Western civilization is falling, and will inevitably do so catastrophically. Unlike Viswalingam, I see the decline of irrational belief systems as a positive thing; I view today's social disorder as a healthy and probably rather brief phase, presaging the emergence of a far more mature, truly global civilization.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed all of Viswalingam's examples, and I found his philosophical observations to be deep and thought-provoking. Rather than reinforcing my own views, this film forced me to reconsider them, to examine our world in a new light. I therefore recommend 'Decadence' highly to anyone interested in understanding the state of the world today.

There's so much packed into 'Decadence' that I'd gladly watch it several more times, if not for one final complaint. At $30 on the creators' Web site, the DVD is horribly overpriced - and just for good measure, it's only available in Australia! But keep an eye on those obscure specialty channels. This film is well worth tracking down.


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