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Teenage: A four-decade panacea of pop culture

Eruption of youth

Wayward girls continuous until 2 a.m. and more in the birth-of-the-teen documentary, Teenage.
Wayward girls continuous until 2 a.m. and more in the birth-of-the-teen documentary, Teenage.

Prior to 1904 and the National Child Labor Committee that was formed in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, there was no such thing as a period of adolescence. One was either a kid or on the payroll, with teenagers frequently punching in for 74-hour work weeks.

From Robert Baden-Powell’s boy scout manifesto that helped pave the way for Das Hitler Jugen, jerky, shell-shocked vets pointedly intercut with a flapping Ruby Keeler, and “Victory Girls” begetting bobbysoxers, Teenage charts a four-decade panacea of pop culture that culminates with the arrival of the first youth marketing boom that hit toward the tail-end of World War II.

Using punk author and co-scripter John Savage’s best-seller, Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, as a springboard, British filmmaker Matt Wolf combines period photographs, diary entries, educational propaganda, home movies, and last (and certainly least), dramatic re-creation to document the invention and subsequent rise of that time-honored consumer cash cow, the American teenager.

Lead researcher Rosemary Rotondi and her staff deserve equal billing for hours spent unspooling miles of archival footage that would eventually assist in earmarking the individual storylines. With four narrators to guide us (Jena Malone, Ben Wishaw, Julia Hummer, and Jessie Usher), the filmmakers should have quit at turning subjective quotes into dialog as a means of shaping a narrative.

Movie

Teenage ***

thumbnail

The lessons on display in this captivating adult look back at an eruption of youth make it a must-see for parents of kids who think their generation cooked up teen angst. Using punk author and co-scripter John Savage’s best-seller, <em>Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture</em>, as a springboard, British filmmaker Matt Wolf combines period photographs, diary entries, educational propaganda, home movies, and last (and certainly least), dramatic recreation to document the invention and subsequent rise of that time-honored consumer cash cow, the American teenager. From Robert Baden-Powell’s boy scout manifesto that helped pave the way for Das Hitler Jugen, jerky, shell-shocked vets pointedly intercut with a flapping Ruby Keeler, and “Victory Girls” begetting bobbysoxers, Teenage charts a four-decade panacea of pop culture that culminates with the arrival of the first youth marketing boom that hit towards the tail-end of World War II. Wolf’s period mockups of various real-life personas are no match for the truth, but in this case, content outweighs form.

Find showtimes

If it can’t be done right, it shouldn’t be done at all. Wolf’s period mockups of various real-life personas are no match for the truth. It’s bad enough that the majority of the footage is presented in the wrong aspect ratio to accommodate the forgeries. No matter how many artfully arranged flash frames, sun flares, digitally induced emulsion scratches, and forged jumps in the gate that come our way, the film stocks unfailingly refuse to mesh, leaving not one convincingly seamless cut from old footage to new and back again in the entire piece.

With as many as 100 archives to pick through — and only 78 minutes to fill — this reliance on actors for docudrama portraits occasionally casts a clinical net over the proceedings, something that Julien Temple’s ebullient found-footage celebration, London — The Modern Babylon, worked around with the greatest of ease.

In this case, content outweighs form and the lessons on display in this captivating adult look back at an eruption of youth make it a must-see for parents of kids who think their generation cooked up teen angst.

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Wayward girls continuous until 2 a.m. and more in the birth-of-the-teen documentary, Teenage.
Wayward girls continuous until 2 a.m. and more in the birth-of-the-teen documentary, Teenage.

Prior to 1904 and the National Child Labor Committee that was formed in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, there was no such thing as a period of adolescence. One was either a kid or on the payroll, with teenagers frequently punching in for 74-hour work weeks.

From Robert Baden-Powell’s boy scout manifesto that helped pave the way for Das Hitler Jugen, jerky, shell-shocked vets pointedly intercut with a flapping Ruby Keeler, and “Victory Girls” begetting bobbysoxers, Teenage charts a four-decade panacea of pop culture that culminates with the arrival of the first youth marketing boom that hit toward the tail-end of World War II.

Using punk author and co-scripter John Savage’s best-seller, Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, as a springboard, British filmmaker Matt Wolf combines period photographs, diary entries, educational propaganda, home movies, and last (and certainly least), dramatic re-creation to document the invention and subsequent rise of that time-honored consumer cash cow, the American teenager.

Lead researcher Rosemary Rotondi and her staff deserve equal billing for hours spent unspooling miles of archival footage that would eventually assist in earmarking the individual storylines. With four narrators to guide us (Jena Malone, Ben Wishaw, Julia Hummer, and Jessie Usher), the filmmakers should have quit at turning subjective quotes into dialog as a means of shaping a narrative.

Movie

Teenage ***

thumbnail

The lessons on display in this captivating adult look back at an eruption of youth make it a must-see for parents of kids who think their generation cooked up teen angst. Using punk author and co-scripter John Savage’s best-seller, <em>Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture</em>, as a springboard, British filmmaker Matt Wolf combines period photographs, diary entries, educational propaganda, home movies, and last (and certainly least), dramatic recreation to document the invention and subsequent rise of that time-honored consumer cash cow, the American teenager. From Robert Baden-Powell’s boy scout manifesto that helped pave the way for Das Hitler Jugen, jerky, shell-shocked vets pointedly intercut with a flapping Ruby Keeler, and “Victory Girls” begetting bobbysoxers, Teenage charts a four-decade panacea of pop culture that culminates with the arrival of the first youth marketing boom that hit towards the tail-end of World War II. Wolf’s period mockups of various real-life personas are no match for the truth, but in this case, content outweighs form.

Find showtimes

If it can’t be done right, it shouldn’t be done at all. Wolf’s period mockups of various real-life personas are no match for the truth. It’s bad enough that the majority of the footage is presented in the wrong aspect ratio to accommodate the forgeries. No matter how many artfully arranged flash frames, sun flares, digitally induced emulsion scratches, and forged jumps in the gate that come our way, the film stocks unfailingly refuse to mesh, leaving not one convincingly seamless cut from old footage to new and back again in the entire piece.

With as many as 100 archives to pick through — and only 78 minutes to fill — this reliance on actors for docudrama portraits occasionally casts a clinical net over the proceedings, something that Julien Temple’s ebullient found-footage celebration, London — The Modern Babylon, worked around with the greatest of ease.

In this case, content outweighs form and the lessons on display in this captivating adult look back at an eruption of youth make it a must-see for parents of kids who think their generation cooked up teen angst.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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