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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Both this film and its followups, The Decline Of Western Civilization Pt. II and Pt. III, were for numerous years unavailable on DVD/Bluray, due to a combination of licensing issues, and the director's own reluctance to revisit them. Spheeris had said that she didn't need the money, but-- since she felt that would most likely be remembered for these films over her more commercial/family-friendly efforts like Wayne's World, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Little Rascals-- that she wanted to take her time and made sure that any digital release did them justice. Prior to their much-anticipated DVD/Bluray release in June of 2015, they had only been available by paying for pricey VHS copies on eBay or as bootlegs. See more »
Here is a great movie. Now, first of all, I would like to say that I was born in the early 1980s. I really never knew, up-close and personal, what true punk rock was. Watching this film was like a history lesson of sorts. The music was great, good vintage rock n' roll from bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, X, etc. It seemed to me that with this film, Penelope Spheeris was trying to show people that these weren't all just stupid kids who were out to do drugs and kill people. Some of these punks really had some philosophies that they were working at behind their music. This seems most evident in the interview with Black Flag. I understand myself how a lot of people might view these bands' philosophies as under-developed and simple, but one must take into account that these were some pretty young people. Nowadays, as young as I still am, I find it refreshing to run into someone my age who understands in any way philosophical thinking. In this movie, the young people may seem a little half-baked in their philosophies, but you might keep in mind that most kids don't even get that far. I've met many full-grown adults who have not progressed as far with deep thought contexts as some of the punk musicians in "Decline". Another thing I loved about this movie was how funny it got at times. Some of these kids were total idiots, while the story about the dead painter was devilishly humorous. Fear's performance at the end topped it all. Even if punk is dead, it was once very alive. All flaws aside, "The Decline of Western Civilization" was made for people who can tell the difference between some suburban wimp with a mohawk and the truly intelligent individuals who were genuinely upset and picked up music instruments as weapons against the forces of the corporate.
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