Released: July 8, 2008
Most documentaries are just visual histories of a band or a scene. The trouble is that they take a scientific approach with a hypothesis that they attempt to prove over the course of the film. But punk is a human story and one that, at its best, has dictated its own future. Punk’s Not Dead lets the story tell itself, no judgments, no science.
It follows punk from the Ramones through the Pistols and Clash, on to Black Flag and Minor Threat. It picks up the punk revival of the late 80s and early 90s and its subsequent commercial breakthrough via Green Day up through the corporate-sponsored Warped Tour. The interviews include a few big names like Rollins, MacKaye, Biafra and Armstrong, but dig deeper as well into the Charlie Harpers and Jimmie Purseys, right down to the kids who make their own scenes happen (with whole sequences on little sub-scenes like Drunk Tank House as well as bits sent in from kids around the world).
Punk’s Not Dead succeeds largely because it gets it. It doesn’t take an outsider’s view or have that old “back in the day” condescension, but instead focuses on the ever-changing and evolving state of the punk scene and how it has managed to be an alternative for thousands of kids even after it was co-opted by mainstream culture.