Subcultures on the Silver Screen

As a medium that has developed and redefined itself in recent years, film is situated at the privileged position of offering both an aerial view of quintessential subcultures while also actively participating in the development of others. It is this duality that creates an appetite for representing the misfits, the rebels, the nonconformists and sometimes even the damned. Films allow silenced or obscure groups to gain visibility, voice their own narratives and project their own aesthetics. Let your end of the week viewing be inspired by a throwback to the films that deconstructed the stories of marginal communities and fueled the construction of new identities.

American History X – Neo-nazis

Dissecting the roots of race hatred is an extremely poignant topic given recent events. Born out of the suffocation of working-class people in Californian society, the Skinheads seem almost caricatured at various points throughout the film, validating its status as a social document. Whether convinced by the aesthetic choices of the director or not, the story acts as a microscopic view into a fl awed American society.

This is England – Skinheads

The widespread unemployment of the Thatcher years may seem like an unlikely context for a coming-of-age story. Combining the hooliganism of working-class England with a snapshot of lost youth, This is England depicts the extremes and adjacent complexities of the Skinhead subculture.

Exit Through the Gift Shop – Street Artists

Exit Through the Gift Shop also tells the story of a subculture that started as a self-expression of the disenfranchised with society. For fans of documentaries or graffiti artist Banksy, this will not disappoint.

Northern Soul

As an authentic time-machine leading back to the youth clubs of 70s England, this film is both an ode to the underground soul movement and a nostalgic resurrection of those who brought this subculture to life. The director herself was a regular attendee of the obscure parties that paved the way for the all-night raves of today.

The Dreamers

Another example of nostalgic escapism is The Dreamers, despite the fact that the film is sometimes too pretentious for its own good. The Dreamers is anchored by unsubtle references and fueled by sex, alcohol and an extreme sense of cinephilia. Bertolucci takes the viewer back to a stage of naïve idealism that marries romance and politics. As much as we’d like to deny this from a more rational perspective, it feels good.

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