“The Decline of Western Civilization” is the reason that I give a damn about documentaries. I discovered Part II on an old VHS tape and played the tape until it broke apart. Quite literally, the second reel snapped inside the black case and shot through the glass. I guess that the VHS couldn’t handle the rocking of Faster Pussycat or Odin. Hell, I forgot how much London ruled until I revisited this film series.
But, before we begin. Let’s take a moment to applaud Penelope Spheeris’ debut and what she did for the various music scenes around the West Coast. Taking a step somewhere between Rolling Stone and National Geographic, Spheeris goes into the wild in three different eras to get a sense of what matters. While Part 1 was more of America discovering the Hardcore Punk scene, Part 2 embraces what would come to color the rest of the series. The sense that fame or achievement is a sour treasure.
Metal is life. People that don’t get it, well never get it. But, it’s the one form of music that can bring together a wide section of people. Lemmy describes it the best at the start of Decline Part II. Punk had its moment, but it was starting to get techno and poppy. Rock had died to give birth to Metal. What else is there? When Decline III rolled around, I could say that the answer hadn’t arrived.
The gutter punks of Decline III show what Decline I promised for the future. If these kids didn’t succeed, their rejection of normal life would lead to their downfall. The musical performances are grimmer and there appears to be no hope for anyone involved. The cautionary probationary officer from Decline II has been replaced by the brutality of street life. It’s enough to make you scream.
The Blu-Ray comes with stunning new 2K scans of all three movies. My jaw dropped, as I forced so many newbies to these films to watch the stunning presentation. This set has to possess the best 1080p transfers for a documentary not named Baraka. There’s also a bonus disc loaded down with vintage interviews, commentaries, trailers, retrospective panels and quite literally every inch of film shot for the series.
All three films come with DTS-HD mono and DTS-HD 5.1 master audio tracks. While I prefer the mono track for the first movie, you have to watch the last two in the full 5.1 track. I’m not a fan of hair metal, but the audio design makes you feel like you’re standing next to coked out broads back at the Troubadour in 1988. So many releases just want to entertain, but this film offers up an experience. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to all.
Release Date: 6/30/15