My Generation is an utterly superficial documentary presented by Michael Caine about the decade that made this cocky working-class lad into a movie star. It’s specifically about what was happening in London at the time through music, fashion, art and film. Caine is a perfect choice to present, because very few living actors personify that ’60s proto-“cool Britannia” better than he can.
The documentary is a kaleidoscope of interviews new and old, but mostly using a mix of audio interviews and narration over archival footage of the era. Caine himself did many of the interviews himself in recent years with people like Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey and Twiggy. The best interview of the lot is with Marianne Faithfull, who tells her side of what happened in the infamous Rolling Stones drug bust (about which there is actually an interesting conspiracy theory, which is not present in the film), and the Mars bar isn’t mentioned. It’s mixed with some archival interviews with people who are dead, like John Lennon.
The archival footage seems to be the big selling point of the film, accompanied by claims that it was previously unavailable and recently unearthed. I have certainly seen some of this footage in documentaries and YouTube videos, but it’s a solid mixture. Being Michael Caine, he was able to license all the big hits of the time for most likely not much, so unlike other documentaries on the era it actually doesn’t rely on the cheaper songs and sound-alikes, which is a big point in its favour.
However, even then Caine was more conservative (he is a Tory and pro-Brexit) than many of his contemporaries, and because of his political views he doesn’t really have the grasp to cover the serious socio-political change that was happening around him. The documentary tries to cover that, but Caine rightfully leaves himself out of it and lets others speak, or just provides the voiceover narration. There is, however, a very funny story about the only time he smoked marijuana.
It’s not a pointless documentary, but it seems like something Channel 4 would’ve done during the height of that Britpop and “Cool Britannia” nonsense, and as you expect it basically claims The Beatles changed the world… which is a lie and completely discredits the pioneering work of plenty of British musicians and producers in the pre-Beatles era.
The disc is completely barebones: not even an interview with Michael Caine, which would’ve been a welcome addition.