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'My Generation'- and its FAB,man!

Premiered at the London Film Festival in 2017 My Generation opened to a great reception and I and my brother were fortunate to attend its premiere in Chelsea (where else for a 1960’s shindig?) and together with an associate we saw it again at the splendid (but very overpriced) Picturehouse Central in London’s Piccadilly on its general release this month.

Second viewing around I was still very impressed by the Michael Caine fronted documentary, aided by a suitably drole script by Likely Lads & Porridge creators Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. The title gives the game away about what the movie is about –it is about Caine’s, Twiggy’s, Mary Quant’s, Lulu’s, Joan Collin’s and others 1960’s- especially ‘swinging London’.

Michael Caine fronts and narrates the 85 minute documentary and the main argument he talks about is how the 1960’s were the first working class generation to do things their own way- it is a fair point and he is very good when talking about the dullness of the austere and rationing Britain you would have found post war but of course every generation argues that the existing one is boring and that you need to rebel and find your own voice.

But I don’t think we should take My Generation too seriously- its sheer pleasure is in the extraordinary range of footage that director David Batty has unearthed and presented for us of that youthful generation.

The film is at its best when it shows original footage of what one generation thought about the other – a variety of middle aged (and older) people stopped in the streets to ask what they thought about youngsters wearing long hair, wearing flowery shirts/blouses and not being able to tell the difference between men and women –something my parent’s generation frequently did (watch any classic episode of Steptoe & Son for the proof: Albert: “you can’t tell the boys from girls these days”, Harold: “I can and I’ve not made a mistake yet, mate!”).

To the current (2018’s) generation, they would probably struggle with some of the material and values on show. For example there is next to no diversity shown and the MeToo# community would be horrified to hear Michael Caine’s mother say about girls in miniskirts that “If it’s not for sale why put it in the shop window?”. The film is not as good about what the 1960’s revolution led to – the murder of Sharon Tate in the USA, addiction to drugs and how much of a wasted generation did we have?

That said, it made a change for a film about the 1960’s not to keep banging on about Vietnam or Civil Rights (as important to the decade as they both were) but rather to celebrate the time –even if it was remarkably short – when Britain was the swinging place to be and the music chosen is FAB!