Michael Caine’s career spans across a staggering 65 years. He along with a handful of others, during the sixties, broke down the barriers of the working-class stigma to take the swinging sixties by storm. Caine’s My Generation takes us on a revolutionary journey with poignancy and nostalgia, with the aid of a few friends; audiences join him on a trip down memory lane which transformed the world forever.
With Caine sat in a modern-day studio, firmly placed as narrator, the documentary is sectioned off into three pivotal parts, Something in the Air, I Feel Free and All Was Not as It Seemed. The first focusing on the class divides amongst the medium of entertainment. The introduction and rise of working-class talents that involve just a few iconic faces such as Twiggy, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Paul McCartney, Vidal Sassoon and David Bailey pop up at every given chance. The theme of youth rebellion pumping through its veins, the feature is made up almost entirely through footage from that glorious era, including scenes of Caine, in black and white, wandering the streets of London. We are invited into their working world behind cameras, in the make-up room and on stages amongst a hoard of screaming fans. Caine goes to considerable lengths to paint a picture, one that outlines how the stuffy upper-class English accent owned the screens whilst yielding an insight into his own feelings that a cockney boy could never get his chance.
As you can imagine from the section titles, we are taken through this Cultural Revolution from its humble beginnings to outlining its euphoria through its heyday and its eventual backlash. Scene after scene emphasise how Fashion through the likes of Biba and Quant had become sexy and was ruled by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who and drugs were part of having hedonistic fun. Anecdotal stories and insider industry gossip are littered throughout, not just from Caine but the likes of David Bailey, Paul McCartney and more via voiceovers while footage from their more youthful days is played out. At various points, it does become quite self-indulgent. If at any point you aren’t aware this is a Michael Caine passion project, you’re soon reminded with clips of his earlier films edited smoothly and sweetly amongst the archival material.
The icing on the provable cake is by far the pulsating sound of the sixties and seventies, dripping in the lush vibrations of the organic guitar strings and legendary tracks that are synonymous with the era giving it its own air of authenticity. The biggest issue, however, is its lack of racial diversity – this is told from a white perspective heavily laden in white culture.
For those who grew up amongst this rebellious period it provides heavy nostalgia, for their children an entertaining insight and their grandchildren. It is an education, a lesson that should be made clear that it’s Caine’s generation who shaped the world in which we now live in now. It’s a glorious ode to the pop culture revolution.
The release of My Generation coincides with Caine’s 85th birthday, March 14th.