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Punk: Early Years
Punk Early Years
Actors: Marc Bolan, Jordan, X-Ray Spex, Generation X, The Slits
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2003     1hr 0min

This fascinating film, shot in 1977-78, documents the early days of the Punk Rock phenomenon. From its beginnings on London?s pub rock circuit to UK chart domination, Punk The Early Years has it all! Includes performances...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Marc Bolan, Jordan, X-Ray Spex, Generation X, The Slits
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll, Educational, Documentary, Biography
Studio: Mvd Visual
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/28/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1978
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1978
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Best Take on the Raw Spirit of London Punk
George Hurchalla | Wilmington, NC | 03/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Originally named "Raw Energy", that title reflected perfectly what this film was about. It captured what was going on in the London punk scene at street level, through great bands that were actually playing regularly, unlike the Pistols, who had been relegated to no more than a media phenomenom in 1977-78 because, as they talk about in the film, they couldn't play anywhere because of the furore the media had created which caused town councils across the UK to ban their shows. Because this film was capturing a slice of what was going on at the time, it doesn't attempt to be some great all-encompassing film about everything going on in English punk rock, but merely a very representative look at it through one set of groups and people. I know everything I need to know about the Sex Pistols and Clash and the usual suspects, so it's fantastic that they concentrated on groups like the Adverts, Slits, and X Ray Spex, some of the most edgy bands of the London scene, and notably bands that all had women in them or in the case of the Slits, were entirely comprised of women.
In dramatic contrast to "Decline of Western Civilization", which tried to be the same sort of film set in LA with a much bigger budget, this film actually is filled with intelligent commentary from fans, band members, even shockingly enough the record company people interviewed. It's comical watching the Adverts interrupt each other while trying to make sure they explain "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" properly.
Though the inclusion of an Eddie and the Hot Rods live performance is seen as "not punk" by purists and perhaps their relation to punk isn't explained thoroughly enough (they do a fantastic cover of "Get Out of Denver"), they were part of the rock bands that stood out by embracing punk at the time. There were bands like the Tom Robinson Band and others who were notable for touring with punk bands and being excited at how much energy punk was bringing back to music, even while their own material remained rock and roll. That's the whole point of the Marc Bolan interview, showing that there were existing rockers who joined in and participated in the new excitement, and helped promote it. The New York Dolls had been a huge inspiration for English punk bands, giving glam an attitude, and a lot of the glam rockers recognized that punk was taking some of what they had been trying to do and getting that much more outrageous with it.
There are so many priceless moments in it for true fans of punk history - Siouxsie talking about being considered fascists merely because she "liked to wear a certain badge" is comical. It's even cool to see a young Billy Idol talk with sincere enthusiasm, rather than the old, strutting rock and roll hack we've seen for so many years now. Mark P of the zine Sniffin Glue and the band Alternative TV is a constant intelligent voice interviewed throughout, who pretty much invented the concept of the photocopied punk zine. Sure some of the accents are difficult, but that's life and just a problem for Americans, punks don't speak BBC English.
For someone who knows little about the bands portrayed and the scene, it might be confusing because it doesn't waste time trying to be a primer, so for those people Caroline Coon's book "1988" would be a essential read to put everything in the film into context. As a serious punk historian - I wrote the book "Going Underground: American Punk 1979-1992" - for me this film with all its rough edges captures the honest revolutionary spirit of punk from a ground level perspective better than any other documentary I've seen. Could have there been a ton of other things in it? Sure, I'd love a Ken Burns style six hour series on punk that intelligently did the subject justice for once and included everyone, but I think it's amazing that someone even took the time to capture this culture as it happened, and these kind of documents should be prized."
If you remember or are curious about what punk was REALLY li
Paul Romano | San Francisco | 08/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"...then this DVD is invaluable. The previous reviewer of this DVD apparently had a strange or romanticized idea of what early UK punk was like. The reviewer's description of The Adverts as "no name" will suffice to indicate his or her level of sophistication and knowledge of UK punk.

I think that this "warts and all" film does a better job than any other I've seen of getting across the giddy experimentalism, frenetic posing, and just sheer lunacy of early UK punk. The American equivalent would be the original DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, which takes a similarly honest look at the highs 'n lows of the LA punk scene circa 1980.

True, The Slits couldn't really play when this was shot. That was the point. True, X-Ray Spex were not terribly polished. True, there was a certain amount of uncertainty about what "really counted" as "punk," and some former pub rock bands like the Hot Rods did get lumped together with more overtly punky bands. True, there were moments of boredom and tedium in the birth of punk; punk was (among other things) a reaction against a sense of ceaseless boredom and this film manages in its rough way to capture some of the atmosphere.

If, like the previous reviewer, you'd like to have a nice, polished MTV video for your documentary of UK punk, well, this DVD isn't it. If you'd like something a bit more accurate, however, then this is a fine companion piece to FILTH & FURY and WESTWAY TO THE WORLD."