David Batty’s new documentary, My Generation is a real audio visual treat. Whilst it is nothing groundbreaking, it offers a unique insight into that most iconic decade from the perspective of one of its biggest stars.
The film itself is marketed as telling the story of Michael Caine’s 1960s. But in fact it is more than that, yes he provides the voiceovers, but he’s also the gatekeeper for a host of fashion, art and pop stars who share their memories of 60s era London life. It details the journey from the austere 1950s through to the explosion of music, fashion and sexuality and excess that the period is so notorious for. What sets My Generation apart from so many documentaries before it is the breadth of the interviewees and the way that the director and Caine weave them into a story which presents the evolution of the revolution.
The soundtrack is as wonderful as you might expect, or rather hope for. The Kinks, The Beatles, The Stones – they’re all there. For a small budget that’s impressive, but something which was made possible thanks to music producer supreme Simon Fuller who take a production credit on the film for his string pulling. The director and Caine felt it wouldn’t be worth making a film without that music, so fortunately they got it. Batty was keen to use footage which hadn’t been seen umpteen times. So there’s a wealth of new colour footage from the era which is a treat for officionados. Some of the editing and effects used to switch between the many sources are very effective and means that you never leave the 60s space. Indeed, the director chose not to use talking heads of the interviewees because he felt that seeing the withered faces of those 60s icons would take you out of that space. The only issue with this is the glaring contradiction of Caine’s present-day presence interespersed at various points in the film. Perhaps that wasn’t necessary.
My Generation won’t win any awards. It doesn’t break down any walls or shed new light on scandelous sujbects. But it also doesn’t seek to do that. And for me that’s something which is rare in documentaries these days – to simply aim to entertain. It’s a short, enjoyable journey through an era which many wish they could have been there to see. Surely that’s worth the entry fee?