The concept of teenagers did not gain widespread recognition until the 20th century, before which childhood and adulthood were two completely discrete phases with nothing in between. In fact, the word “teenager” was not coined until 1945, when two World Wars resulted in thousands of young people being shipped off by adults to fight and die in Europe, and the seeds of a lasting intergenerational conflict were planted. This fascinating documentary illuminates the earliest pioneers of youth culture from this emergent period—from decadent flappers and hipster Swing Kids to brainwashed Nazi Youth and frenzied Sub-Debs—in a visually exciting, historically rigorous and artfully anachronistic piece of work.
Based on a groundbreaking book by the punk author Jon Savage and narrated by actors Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher, director Matt Wolf’s compelling collage is crafted from archival material, Super-8 recreations and diaries of actual mid-century teenagers, all set to a post-punk contemporary soundtrack. The result is an unconventional pop historical film about the birth of the iconic, eternally cool figure of the teenager.
MATT WOLF is a New York-based filmmaker who was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” His has directed an award-winning feature documentary, Wild Combination; produced and directed short documentaries for The New York Times, Sundance Channel and New York City Ballet; and was a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow.
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