Do you ever feel nostalgic for a time or place that you have never actually experienced? That is how I feel about the punk movement and the years that followed it. The way people lived and thought back then intrigues me. I long for the music, the fashion, the culture. I crave it so deeply that not being able to travel back in time to see it actually frustrates me.
Yesterday, I watched the Australian film ‘Dogs in Space’. It screened at ACMI, in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The film takes place in 1978 Melbourne, during the height of post-punk culture. It focuses on the chaotic lives of a group of ratbags who live together in a dodgy Melbourne house. Their time is spent partying, taking drugs, staring at a TV, driving around recklessly and going to gigs.
There are many character in this film, and we see snippets of the lives and personalities of all of them. The most prominent character, however, is Sam. He is a drug-abusing musician, played by the late INXS frontman, Michael Hutchence. Sam appears to be in a constant state of drunkness, strange and unpredictable. He sings in the awful yet wonderful post-punk band, Dogs in Space. We see his relationship with Anna (played by Saskia Post) and the way it tragically ends.
The film feels like a documentary. It doesn’t even really have a plot, yet the way it captures the lives of the Berry street residents is both confronting and intriguing. It encapsulates the time so perfectly that it gives me that feeling of nostalgia, that frustration. I’m not saying I want to live in a shitty house, getting high and sleeping all day. I just crave the feeling of freedom and cultural immersion that these people had.
If you haven’t seen this film, watch it. The music, Michael, the atmosphere, and the history are reason enough.