Review: My Generation

Blu-ray: My Generation (2017)

‘We decided that we aint gonna be Mickey Mouse anymore’

As the 1960’s dawned, Maurice Micklewhite was struggling. A working class Cockney trying to cut it as an actor, his 30’s approached he was still in Rep and scrapping for bit parts on TV. He was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the whole game was rigged in favor of ex-public schoolboys who were running the show. The name change to Michael Caine hadn’t worked that well and having turned up for an audition for a Sergeant in the colonial war film Zulu he was informed that the part was already cast. However, as he was leaving the room the Director Cy Endfield stopped him and said with his looks and physique he could play a Victorian officer and he was cast in the role of Lt Gonville Bromhead. As Caine reflects in My Generation the chip is firmly still on his shoulder ‘if that had been an English Director, they would never have let me play that part’. His career kick-started by the success of Zulu, Caine would paradoxically eclipse this by playing couple of working class lead roles; the womanizing bastard Alfie and the skint spy Harry Palmer who was cooler in a pair of specs and a mac that any posh secret agent in a tux and Aston Martin.

My Generation is a wander through the decade that established him and a host of working-class kids on the world stage. Narrated by Caine with voice-over contributions from survivors such as Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Marianne Faithfull, Twiggy, and Mary Quant. The legacy of their contributions to art, fashion and music arguably saw the working classes dominating pop culture well into the Eighties.

Caine and co’s Sixties is shown as the era as the young thought ‘fuck it’ and headed for the Smoke. While the East and West’s hands were hovering over the nuke buttons to see who would blink first and as they flooded in the Old Guard escaped to the sticks. It’s a witness to a capital city that doesn’t really exist anymore. In the London of the Noughties creative types heading to bright lights without financial support would struggle to pay the rent on a shed and we have a Government that couldn’t re-house the survivors of a tower block inferno a year after the event.

My Generation is a must for Sixties pop culture fans, indeed it’s written by the creators of the superb Likely Lads sitcom Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Director David Batty makes good use of clips sourced from over 1,600 hours of material, including the work of seminal 1960’s filmmaker Peter Whitehead, whose work includes unseen footage of Caine, Mick Jagger, Julie Christie, The Rolling Stones and many others. This took a staggering five years to compile, so you can see why this is being seen as the definitive film of the era. This would also make an excellent companion to Shawn Levy’s definitive book on the decade ‘Ready Steady Go’ which also provides plenty of details on the life and loves Caine’s flat ate Terrance Stamp.

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Review by Steve Woolley.