Age of Rage: The Australian Punk Revolution (Adelaide Film Festival) – Film Review

From my early teen years, I’ve always been a big fan in the punk movement, but never too involved personally. I loved the aesthetic, the spiked hair, the studded leather jackets, and torn jeans. But in particular, I massively love the DIY nature of the movement.

While I was aware of the UK punk movement, and a little of the US, I never really knew the roots of punk in Australia. So, when I saw that documentary, Age of Rage: The Australian Punk Revolution was going to be screening at the Adelaide Film Festival, I jumped at the chance to see it, putting it high on my list of film choices, and I’m so glad that I did!

Director Jennifer Ross has spent well over 10 years lovingly crafting this feature length documentary film, traveling all over Australia to interview the key movers and shakers in the punk revolution. Ross has also amassed a huge collection of historic footage and photographs, which are heavily used to create this monument of documentary storytelling, spanning the last 50 or so years, kicking things off in the 70s.

1970 Australia was extremely conservative, drawing influence from its British roots and being a nanny state. As with most strict environments, they will meet a breaking point and rebellion will break out. For a lot of Australia, this happened in the form of the punk revolution. Young Australians sick of the government and wanting to make social change, protest injustice, and stick it to the man!

The movement swelled up from the punk music scene and spread across the nation. In some states, such as Queensland, punks were strongly targeted by police and politicians in many ways, their shows being shut down or staked out, bands arrested, squats raided and locked down, which just further added fuel to the fire and caused the movement to charge on.

It would be an absolute sin to make a documentary about the punk revolution and not have an amazing soundtrack. Thankfully, Jennifer Ross has delivered just that! A soundtrack full of powerful, driving, and raw punk that spans the decades, from legends such as the Hard-Ons and RUKUS to current day legends such as The Smith Street Band.

I loved the feel of this film too, it really captured the rough and ready DIY feel without making it feel cheap or half-arsed. Ross has blended the interviews she captured with old new reels and articles, gig footage, and really cool animations to put together a truly engrossing experience that I couldn’t take my eyes off!

It’s easy to see that a lot of what is featured in Age of Rage still resonates today in many ways. There’s still so much social change that needs to happen, such as the housing crisis gripping Australia right now, race, sexual equality, and so much more. We still see these huge protests, which is great. Nowadays there’s just less piercings, mohawks and studded belts. If you feel the world needs change, see this film and become inspired. I sure was!

Age of Rage: The Australian Punk Revolution played at the 2022 Adelaide Film Festival and is screening now worldwide at select festivals.
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