The Decline of Western Civilization III » Ann Arbor Film Festival

The Decline of Western Civilization III

(Penelope Spheeris, 1997, 86 min)

In the third entry in Spheeris’s vital trilogy, the very title of the series takes on a dark literalism: while the “decline” of the first film was largely a reclamation of that word as an ironic and earnest challenge to the status quo, the third film finds Los Angeles punks and punk culture in a deeply nihilistic emotional rubble.  The ragged idealism of 1979-80 has devolved as the culture attracted even more desperately disenfranchised youths who found their only family and community in the mid-’90s gutter punk scene.  Spheeris’s probing camera, both tender and confrontational, digs deep into what might otherwise remain an impenetrable subculture and reveals a defiant, damaged humanity, albeit one that often feels rootless and apathetic.  The degree to which the kids trust and connect with her is truly remarkable, and the end result is a sad, powerful work of rare intensity and honesty. -Mark Toscano

Filmmaker in Attendance, 35mm

Directed by Penelope Spheeris


Friday, March 28 9:15pm

Penelope Spheeris: “The Decline of Western Civilization Part III”

A very rare screening of the third film in Spheeris’s Decline trilogy. This 1998 documentary focuses on the “gutterpunk” lifestyle of homeless teenagers in Los Angeles.

Michigan Theater (Screening Room)