End of the Century

Synopsis: In 1974 the New York City music scene was shocked into consciousness by a band of misfits from Queens called the Ramones. Playing in a seedy Bowery bar to a small group of fellow struggling musicians, the band struck a chord of disharmony that rocked the foundation of the ’70s music scene.

Tracing the history of the band, from its unlikely origins through its star-crossed career, bitter demise and sad fates of Joey and Dee Dee, End Of The Century is a vibrant, candid document of one of the most influential groups in the History of Rock.

End of the Century 8.0

The Ramones pretty much started the punk movement. While they were influenced by a number of other bands, it is well documented that, not unlike The Velvet Underground, they never attained popular success but influenced generations of musicians (case-in-point: The Sex Pistols and The Clash, who in turn reaped the rewards of the Ramones’ innovations).

The Ramones were not technically good musicians; they were kids from the poor side of town with nothing else to do but play music. Their energy compensated for their lack of musical skill – they would end up playing the same three chords time and again, but with a fury and eagerness that outclassed the material and brought it to levels no other band could or had done before.

This documentary traces their whole history, from start to finish. It’s unapologetic, it’s raw and it’s no holds barred: the remaining band members (Joey died before the making of this film), their entourage, their peers, their family, all recount their stories or provide opinions without the usual predilection for schmaltzy reminiscence and sycophantic reverence.

Indeed: ‘End of the Century’ (named after their fifth album) is dirty and ugly. But, if anything, it feels real – so real it hurts, even. Hearing all this candid commentary can be spiritually agonizing: there had been tensions within the group for years and that was clearly unresolved; sometimes the resentment is barely concealed.

Still, despite it all the band members carried on, focused as they were on maintaining their momentum. Their total devotion to the Ramones can be awe-inspiring, because they faced odds that would have stumped others, their dreams and ambitions were broken along the way but they soldiered on, the group’s internal structure pretty much collapsed – and yet they survived.

Not many bands can say the same. And not many bands have had the impact that they did, even if they remained on the fringe, influencing the music world from below the surface. The Ramones’ story is key to understanding the rock music of today – without them there wouldn’t have been Green Day, Offspring, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, …etc.

And that alone makes this film essential viewing.

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