Dir. Matt Wolf. U.S./U.K. 2013.

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Teenage is a documentary that uses archive footage to tell the story of the birth of youth and the creation of the term, 'teenager'.

Jon Savage, the author of Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture (1875-1945) first published in 2007 to critical acclaim co-wrote the film, which uses archive footage from those years and looks upon the youth movements of significant events.  These include the creation of the Boy Scouts and how the voice of this disillusioned youth (voiced by Ben Whishaw) says how the military exercise of the Scouts in the first decade of the 20th century helped build the boys into men ready for the Great War of 1914-18.

Other events are the creation of the Hitler Youth, whom Der Führer believed was the future for which he was doing so much and in Savage's eyes the Swing age of the 1930s where it had its own language, fashion and iconography.  This was a forebearer for the mods, punks and even cultural phenomenon like the fandom of the Beatles and the Bay City Rollers.

Savage notes that all; 'Pop culture often starts with frenzied youth' and in the baby boom period girls found a way to extend the independence that was garnered to them during the war years.  Much is made of females running factories and businesses whilst the men were in Europe fighting, so this freedom was extended to their children, especially the girls.

And in this post-war world with the birth of  the teenager, a word that was not the public consciousness until those years, you saw young adults/teenagers having their own income, purchasing their own goods.  This is in stark contrast to the years of working in a mill or coal mine for 13 hours a day with blisters virtually as a slave.

Expertly edited and wonderfully curated by director Matt Wolf, who lovingly renders Savage's vision from the page to the screen upholding the notion that 'those who get the youth get the future'.

Teenage is out on Friday 24 January 2013 and is released by Soda Pictures.

Jamie Garwood

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