Directed by Wolfgang Buld
If you’ve ever wondered where VH1, Julien Temple, Penelope Spheeris, and anyone else who has attempted to document the punk movement got their stock footage of youngsters pogoing in leather jackets and safety pins, you can look to Wolfgang Buld’s criminally under-recognized Punk in London, recently reissued on DVD.
As is true of most blockbuster documentaries, the most entertaining portions of Buld’s vision are those that the subjects likely wish hadn’t made the final cut, such as the young punks waxing philosophical about politics, at which point you will realize that the people who wrote the political anthems of your generation can barely form a relevant sentence, or a brilliant scene in which Teddy Boys are captured mocking punks like cargo-shorted frat boys mocking people capable of consensual sex.
Punk in London serves as a London counterpart to Amos Poe and Ivan Kral’s The Blank Generation. The documentary; covering bands like The Adverts, Killjoys, and X-Ray Spex; plays like an avant-garde narrative in the vain of Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil. There are no title cards promoting the names of bands or members… because, in the end, it doesn’t matter; they’re all parts of the same scene and aesthetic. In that way, punk is presented as a fluid and socialist movement of the masses… the pink-haired, leather-clad, safety-pin-adorned masses (?). – Izzy Cihak