Before the ‘teenager’ was invented, there was no second stage of life, you were either a child or you went to work as an adult. New documentary Teenage captures milestones in youth culture from some of the brightest and darkest moments of recent history.

Inspired by punk author Jon Savage’s book, Teenage gives voice to young people from the first half of the 20th century in America, Britain and Germany – from London’s Bright Young People and Harlem’s jitterbuggers to Germany’s Hitler Youth and anti-Nazi Swing Kids.

Four young voices (Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer, Jessie Usher) bring to life rare archival material and filmed portraits of emblematic teenagers from history like flapper Brenda Dean Paul, Tommie Scheel, a rebellious German Swing Kid, and Warren Wall, an Afro-American Boy Scout.

Teenage is a deeply fascinating film that questions our conception of youth, rebellion and the very concept of coming of age. Some of the original footage used is absolutely brilliant with scenes of young Swing dancers and LA’s Zoot Suit riots, while I found the chapter on Germany’s anti-fascist Swingjugend particularly touching.

If you’re in London you can catch Teenage at the BFI Southbank until 6 February 2014, otherwise the DVD is out on 31 March 2014.




One Response

  1. Alethea Thomas

    I love history and different cultures of it. Please let me know of any new docs of old that comes up in the future. I so enjoy this site. <3