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Teenage - Film Review
by Kathryn Loggins

Directed by Matt Wolf

Teenage is a fascinating documentary directed by Matt Wolf, inspired by punk author Jon Savage’s book of the same name that explored the history of the teenager and how that role has shaped the world we live in. Many people may not stop to think about the fact that the word ‘teenager’ was actually invented after child labor laws were implemented and the youth of society started to search for meaning. They weren’t children anymore and they didn’t work, so they weren’t adults, so what were they?

Meaning came to youth in various ways throughout history, but it became clear that this was important part of society, because they were the future. If the youth could be controlled, it would secure the future of any of the various causes that were going on in the world. This film focuses on 1930 and 1940 in Germany, England and America. It is made up of archival footage and reenactments. The archival footage is absolutely amazing and it is clear that it was an extremely difficult process for the filmmakers to obtain all of this footage.

The reenactments are filmed to look extremely authentic, so that it is sometimes difficult for the audience to distinguish if the footage is archival or not. The various sequences blend together effortlessly and the audience is flooded with beautiful imagery.

The film is narrated by the voices of teenagers from the various countries. Matt Wolf shares in his director’s notes how he found this narration: “We composited quotes from hundreds of diaries and primary sources to create subjective narration that contrasts the authoritative voices of adults in newsreels and headlines.”

Wolf adds, ”The result is an artistic “living collage” of history and human storytelling that is beautiful and effective.”