Shellshock Rock
John T. Davis
(1979, 16mm, 44 mins)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Film Screening

Shellshock Rock(1979) is John T. Davis’ first in a trilogy of films (including Protex Hurrah(1980) and Self-Conscious Over You(1981)) exploring the Belfast filmmaker’s local subculture and American cultural influence. It provides a look at the burgeoning punk scene in Northern Ireland, featuring early footage of bands such as Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, Protex, The Outcasts, and Rhesus Negative, among others. While these subjects are recorded with a genuine sympathy, the filmmaker presents them abruptly, without a conventional documentary framework. The result is a movie that “unfolds impressionistically, as if in direct response to the vibrant synapses of Davis’ brain” (Desson Thompson, The Washington Post, June 1, 2007.)

The admixture of intimacy and denial had a profound impact on the artist Duncan Campbell, who stated that “it made something familiar seem exotic. I was very provincially minded when I was younger and this film worked wonders in terms of transforming this.”