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Short summary

Teenagers did not always exist. In this living collage of rare archival material, filmed portraits, and voices lifted from early 20th Century diary entries, a struggle erupts between adults and adolescents to define a new idea of youth.
Teenagers did not always exist. In this living collage of rare archival material, filmed portraits, and voices lifted from early 20th Century diary entries, a struggle erupts between adults and adolescents to define a new idea of youth.

Trailers "Teenage (2013)"

Teenage does not use "talking head" analysis or punditry often seen in documentary films. There are no new interviews with adults reflecting on their experiences in the past. Instead, using a combination of archival and reenacted footage, the film dedicates itself to depicting youth through the viewpoint and voice of the young.

Instead of layering in historical music from the time periods, Bradford Cox's score for Teenage uses modern styles of pop music current to the release of the film, including ambient and hip-hop beats.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Ishnjurus
    This is an excellent documentary with fabulous original footage and excellent historical research that raises many salient points about the origins of teenage culture. It gets a little lost along the way when the story veers towards racial tension and unemployment protests in the 1930s as these are not exclusively youth issues and did not originate from youthful protest. There were also some elements played down, such as the studied attention to market products to teenage tastes - a trend that grew rapidly in America during the 1920s and 1930s. When the documentary ends, in 1945, the world is set for the deluge of teenage culture to descend, and I wanted to see more of this - perhaps in another documentary...
  • comment
    • Author: Charyoll
    I'm only giving 8 stars because I feel this documentary didn't quite achieve it's purpose. It's intention is to show the growth of the youth culture in the 20th Century and it does show this but it seems to get lost in the telling.

    It shows youth at labor, youth in politics, youth at war. And that became a problem for me because I see the youth culture as a targeted element for merchandising and capitalist profits. Well this documentary does show that element but it is so overshadowed by historical events it's easy to lose focus on it's growth while also showing the social & political changes in the western world from 1900 to 1950. Plus the youth at leisure is limited almost exclusively to the 'moneyed class'!

    Otherwise this is a fine documentary and well told.
  • comment
    • Author: Arthunter
    The film, a documentary of sorts, is based on the book which covers teenagers from 1875 to 1945. The summary says teenagers did NOT exist before the 20th century, but of course teenagers always existed, perhaps they were not given the "teenage" label until the 20th century.

    The film draws from dozens of archival sources, film clips, newsreels, movies, newspapers, magazines, and photographs. It tells the story of how teenagers came to prominence and changed over the years. A lot of it was during wartime, showing contrasts among American, British, and Nazi German teenagers. And the cross-cultural influences.

    A very nice film for those of us interested in the subject, but it stops about 1945, with the post WW2 blossoming of teenagers, their rights, their role in society. And of course if we look at a typical college, about half the students are teenagers, they have clubs, fraternities, sororities, student government.

    I was a teenager in the 1950s and early 1960s, it brought back mostly good memories.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Jena Malone Jena Malone - American Girl (voice)
    Ben Whishaw Ben Whishaw - British Boy (voice)
    Julia Hummer Julia Hummer - German Girl (voice)
    Jessie T. Usher Jessie T. Usher - American Boy (voice) (as Jessie Usher)
    Leah Hennessey Leah Hennessey - Brenda Dean Paul
    Ivy Blackshire Ivy Blackshire - Melita Machmann
    Daniela Leder Daniela Leder - Melita Machmann (voice)
    Ben Rosenfield Ben Rosenfield - Tommie Scheel
    Malik Peters Malik Peters - Warren Wall
    Richie Coterelle Richie Coterelle - Bright Young Thing
    Julia Cumming Julia Cumming - Bright Young Thing
    Taylor Edward Freeman Taylor Edward Freeman - Bright Young Thing
    Samuel Hecht Samuel Hecht - Bright Young Thing
    Casper Jorgensen Casper Jorgensen - Bright Young Thing
    Claire Lucido Claire Lucido - Bright Young Thing
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