The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead

Aug 14 - Aug 20, 2015

(Wes Orshoski, 2015, USA, DCP, 110 min)

Sex Pistols. The Clash. Mike Hunt’s Dishonorable Discharge. Almost. But instead of choosing the Mike Hunt band name, four London teens got together and named themselves The Damned.

Fresh off its SXSW premiere, Don’t You Wish We Were Dead is the definitive story of that pioneering band, from their formation in 1976 through to present day. It’s a complicated journey unflinchingly portrayed, and a must-see for any fan of the band, or the early days of punk.
The Damned were groundbreakers, a crew assembled through classified ads and odd friends at a nadir of British counterculture. As the first UK punk band to release a single or record an album, they were the cutting edge of the movement, a half-step ahead of the Sex Pistols, and active participants in the genre’s bloody birth.
Everything takes off from there, and the band members, alongside a broad survey of musicians, critics, and cultural icons testify to the potency of the group, as captured in rare footage from throughout their career. A fellow musician accurately describes their ferocity as “feral, hungry, and incredibly loud.” But the story grows in complexity as time passes: splits and reunions, reinventions and experimentations over a career spent rejecting expectations.
Director Wes Orshoski (Lemmy) energetically traces this growth into the present day, capturing the band’s brilliance along with the complex human costs paid along the way. Intricate questions are raised about the balance between artistic self-identity, critical acclaim, and commercial success. What emerges by the final frame is an image of punk’s soul, embodied in the lives of four musicians who won’t stop playing.

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