Back in April, we interviewed Matt Wolf, Jon Savage, and Jason Schwartzman on their wonderful new documentary Teenage, which had its premiere at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. We noted that the film was:
Based on punk author and critic Jon Savage’s 2007 book Teenage: the Creation of Youth Culture 1875-1945, he and Wolf worked together to create a living collage of the 20th Century roots of the teen, weaving together archival footage and subjective voiceover narration, interspersed with recreated footage from the time period to tell their story.
Told through the lives of four teens in America, England, and Germany—high-society party girl Brenda Deen Paul, black American Boy Scout Warren Wall, Hitler Youth cadet Melita Maschmann, and Tommie Scheel, a member of the Hamburg Swings–Wolf’s documentary is a brilliantly-crafted work of cinema that gives a poignant look at what it meant to be a young person struggling to find a place in society in a time before the stage in life between childhood and adulthood even had a name. More than just a love letter to the past,Teenage is an empowering look at the strength of youth culture and where it came from, allowing us to see the past as a way to inform our own lives. And as someone very much in love with the period of the early to mid-20th Century, I found their documentary to be an absolute dream and a delight to watch unfold. With Wolf’s deft use of rare archival footage, it almost seemed like a great work of fiction. You can imagine this world for yourself and read about it in historical texts or old magazines, but to see it living and breathing in this way was both impressive and emotional.
And now, with Teenage getting its theatrical release next month, it’s been announced that the soundtrack for the film—composed by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound—will be released March 11th via Cinereach Music. Speaking to the musical desires for the movie, the filmmakers told me:
Matt: …early on I got the archival footage and I put it to contemporary music and was like, this works. Because when you put 1920s kids dancing to some hot jazz it sounds like grandpa. On the most basic level, that juxtaposition between contemporary music and archival transforms the material. Bradford’s one of my most favorite contemporary musicians and he’s the first person I approached and he said yes, and that was a very important creative collaboration for me with his aesthetic point of view coloring the film as well.
Jason: The music really is emotional and very powerful.
Jon: Well, we’re all huge music fans and in a way music is the underpinning of the whole thing. Also, music is the commercial hook for youth culture and that’s also a very important thing. So again, the great thing about the Frank Sinatra moment is that the birth of of teenager is actually signaled by young women going crazy and people taking notice of young women. So youth culture is basically started by young women. Anytime anyone gets macho about this, you should just remind them: if it wasn’t for us, you wouldn’t exist. And in fact, the interesting thing about Sinatra was that guys hated him.
So check out the track listing and enjoy the trailer for Teenage below.
01 Natural Harp Monitor
02 Skeleton Disk Loop
03 Snow on Cape
04 New Prairie Blackout Pattern
06 Daphne Duck
07 Harlem Crepescular
08 Paprika Expose
09 Pastel Ruins
10 Milk Glass Metronome
12 Doctor October
14 Wireless Fantasy No. 1
15 Dream Logic
16 Spanish Plastic
17 VHS Dream (Teenage)