Review: The Decline of Western Civilization Collection
Blu-ray: The Decline of Western Civilization Collection (1981 – 1998)
Good god where do you start with this documentary!? To write a full review of it you’d have to discuss politics, youth culture, feminism, poetry… you’d end up writing a bloody book about it. To say that Penelope Spheeris’ documentary about the Punk and Rock scenes in (mainly L.A.) America is iconic is an understatement. There have, over the years, been some amazing music documentaries; Woodstock, Stop Making Sense, Some Kind of Monster, The Beatles Anthology, all amazing, but this is in a different class. Although parts of it are retrospective, Spheeris filmed it right as it was happening, and the raw energy of the music and ‘alternative’ mindsets of the musicians and their fans bursts forth onscreen.
Originally released in 1981 The Decline of Western Civilization Part 1 examines the Los Angeles burgeoning hardcore punk scene, perfectly capturing the intensity of the time with bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs. This film was so popular Spheeris went on to make The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years in 1988 and was this time was filmed at the height of L.A.’s metal scene. The Decline of Western Civilization Part III was released in 1998 and focuses on the lives of Los Angeles ‘Gutter punks’ featuring Naked Aggression and Final Conflict.
It’s so entertaining and so in depth that it is hard to fault. This is the story of punk and post punk in America. It’s raw and you dislike practically everyone onscreen, and that’s what makes it great; the spitting and the honesty.
It comes with a massive set of extras, quite honestly all music fans no matter what their age NEED to watch this amazing set. It’s ESSENTIAL viewing, and despite its length it’s thoroughly enjoyable and as relevant today as it was in 1981. Dave Grohl’s commentary is fantastic.
Special features include: The Decline of Western Civilization: • Audio Commentary with director Penelope Spheeris and box set producer Anna Fox • Audio Commentary by musician/filmmaker Dave Grohl • Extended interviews with the Bands – Black Flag, Germs, X • Additional band performances – Fear, Germs, The Gears • Additional interviews with the Light Bulb Kids • Henry Rollins interviews Penelope Spheeris • Extended interview Brendan Mullen, owner of The Masque • Extended interview with Germs Manager, Nicole • Theatrical Trailer And more The Decline of Western Civilization Part 2 – The Metal Years: • Audio Commentary director Penelope Spheeris and Nadir D’Priest (London) • Extended interviews – Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Lemmy, Chris Holmes, Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and more • Theatrical Trailer The Decline of Western Civilization 3: • Extended interviews with Flea, Leonard Phillips (The Dickies), Keith Morris, Rick Wilder • Additional interviews with the Light Bulb Kids • Sundance Film Festival interview with Penelope Spheeris • LA County Museum of Art Panel – Decline I and III • Behind the Scenes • Theatrical Trailer And more Bonus Disc: • Extended interviews with the bands from Decline II – Megadeth, London, Odin • Decline I news report • Decline II cruising the strip • Decline III panel • LA County Museum of Art Panel – Decline II • Tawn Mastrey interviews Penelope Spheeris • Nadir and Lizzie interview • Theatrical Trailer for Penelope Spheeris’ Suburbia • Mark Toscano interviews Penelope Spheeris.
*WARNING* Video below is not safe for work due to expletives.