The punk rock scene was never going to be a one hit wonder. The culture represented the lives of so many people that the music was never going to be the end.
Punk books were published and proved popular but it didn't stop there. And so it came as no surprise when punk hit the small and big screen and wowed us all with punk fashion, the music and way of life.
Here are 8 of the best punk rock documentaries that you must watch. We have included a trailer for each film so you can get a taste of what to expect.
Where else can we start other than talking about Decline. It's such an iconic film that no other punk film can really capture the prime of punk culture like this can. It dives so deep into the culture during the late 70s in LA and provides details into the life of a Cali punk rocker both on and off the stage. The film features bands such as The Alice Bag Band and Fear and really drives home how big a role women had in punk culture. California was a big contributor to the rise of punk's significance in society and will never be forgotten. This film is a must watch.
The first film on this list to include The Sex Pistols and their awesome leather jackets and it probably won't be the last. However, this film probably puts the band into context more than any other. Fury is a hugely successful film and features exclusive interviews with the band, and live behind the scenes footage of them in action. You get to witness the formation and the ultimate destruction of the band better than any other film out there. This is another must watch for all punks and you will enjoy very second.
The Ramones were, arguably, the biggest influencers of pun rock music than any other band of their time. The 2003 documentary End of the Century focuses around the Ramones' lifespan, starting from early days in New York City. As we know, their ending was not so beautiful as their beginning. You experience the bitter ending to their long lasting friendships and the interviews are explicit which provides real insight into what each member was like and gives the audience of what it was like to be a punk rocker.
Punk's Not Dead explores the punk music and punk fashion scene and how it influences the mainstream media and society. For some, punk and what it was originally about, is dead. For others it's simply evolved, its spirit being the point. The conflicting opinions presented bring this documentary to life. The film is deep and comprehensive and goes deep into the modern alternative scene, including how grunge bands are fairing in this day and age. Overall, a great watch and deserves its place on this list.
Shawn Stern bought a school bus in 1982 and decided to do a cross-country spreading of the gospel with fellow SoCal band Social Distortion. The concept of being punk Johnny Appleseeds falls apart when they get to DC and the latter band implodes; thankfully, some kids named Minor Threat let them stay at their house in the nation's capitol. The rest is history. The documentary captures what it's really like to live life on the road, packed with interviews with the band. Great documentary and time well spent watching.
This punk documentary is based on the book written 5 years before hand (we also think you should read it as part of our top punk books to start reading). Another film based on the punk rock scene in California, American Hardcore focuses on the bands that forced their through the field to try and make it to the top. Bands like Black Flag, 7 Seconds and Gang Green all feature in this film with each of their stores explained. But it doesn't stop there. You even witness the birth of the mosh pit (back then it was known as a slam pit). Watch this film to see Henry Rollins relive his glory days as a punk rocker.
We did say that the Sex Pistols would appear again at some point on this list, and so here we are. A DJ at the legendary punk club The Roxy, Don Letts had a front row seat to the rise of the punk rock scene. "My white mates were picking up guitars," he said in a recent Sight & Sound article, "such was the energy that I wanted to pick up something too." The Punk Rock Movie is full of clips showing insights into the band among others such as Clash. One tip to make you aware of though: look for early releases of the film. The newer versions have remastered the music to play studio recordings. Hardly punk at all...
Ok so technically speaking this isn't a documentary but it's such a great film that we want you to watch it anyway. Repo Man is where punk gets futuristic and enters the realms of sci-fi. It centers around Otto, a hardcore kid growing up in LA during the heights of the punk rock scene. It's a bit nuts but to be honest, it's thoroughly enjoyable.