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The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

Not Rated | | Documentary, History, Music | 1983 (Italy)
The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.

Director:

Penelope Spheeris

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Cast

Credited cast:
Alice Bag Band Alice Bag Band ... Themselves
Black Flag ... Themselves
Catholic Discipline Catholic Discipline ... Themselves
Circle Jerks Circle Jerks ... Themselves
Fear Fear ... Themselves
The Germs The Germs ... Themselves (as Germs)
X X ... Themselves
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alice Bag ... Herself - Alice Bag Band (Vocals)
Claude Bessy Claude Bessy ... Himself - Catholic Discipline (Vocals)
Bob Biggs Bob Biggs ... Himself - Publisher - Slash Magazine (as Robert Biggs)
Don Bolles ... Himself - Germs (Drums)
D.J. Bonebrake D.J. Bonebrake ... Himself - X (Drums)
Rick Brodey Rick Brodey ... Himself - Catholic Discipline (Bass) (as Rick Jaffe)
Dinah Cancer ... Herself - Light Bulb Kid (as Mary)
Exene Cervenka ... Herself - X (Vocals) (as Exene)
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Storyline

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X. Written by Rich Swenson <swenson@haas.berkeley.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Spirit of American Punk Rock. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1983 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Падение западной цивилизации See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Spheeris Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Penelope Spheeris originally wanted to have The Go-Go's in this film, but this didn't work out in the long run. See more »

Quotes

The Circle Jerks member: And at the bottom it says "Thank you." And you can tell 'em to fuck off.
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Soundtracks

Beef Balogna
(uncredited)
Written by Lee Ving
Performed by Fear
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Get me a ****ing beer!" A hilarious, dark, pulse-racing doc
1 September 2004 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

One of the major successes to The Decline of Western Civilization, filmmaker Penelope Spheeris' indie breakthrough, is that it can perhaps appeal to non-punk fans as to the hardcore ones. More importantly, it captures a moment in history before the movement became completely "market-worthy", when bands would play (or, at the least, try to play in some cases) in dank, dirty clubs to an audience that had as much self-respect as they had respect for the bands. For the fan, such as myself, there are precious interviews with some of the quasi-legends of LA's punk-scum, some dead, some still living and still hard-working in the scene.

Performances and interviews include the likes of The Circle Jerks, X, Black Flag (in the pre-Henry Rollins days), Catholic Discipline, Fear, the Alice Bag Band, and most memorable (in my opinion) being the Germs. While I knew of a few of the bands and performers in the film (The Jerks and Black Flag mostly), I had only heard rumors about lead singer (the late) Darby Crash, and from the footage in the film he seems to be one of the, if not the, epitomes of the punk movement. He doesn't take himself too seriously, he loves to drink, sometimes when he speaks it's complete gibberish, and the attitude he brings on stage is both funny and in a free-form way exhilarating. A performer like that would probably scare Steve Miller and Jackson Browne out of their skins.

Decline of Western Civilization may not turn on every non-punk fan that seeks this film out (it's hard to find on video), but it shouldn't necessarily turn them off either. Like a kind of anthropologist that's sneaked into the party, Spheeris gets the behavior of these people down pat, their motives, their likes and hatreds, and the power that was their on and off-screen personas. A few of them almost come off as normal, some don't, but they're only offensive to those who aren't too open to things. On top of that, the film is a must-see to the kinds of kids that think they're punk fans just because they listen to Good Charlotte and Blink-182: if you want to get the real scoop on the movement and genre of rock you profess to love, give the pioneers a chance. A


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