These rare films are a time capsule of the attitude, music and fashions that besieged Britain as punk took over.
1977: The Punk Kebab Documentary
Starring The Nipple Erectors and The Maniacs and born in the year of punk, this is a documentary about kebabs with an anarchic approach.
Look out for footage of a young Shane MacGowan at the very dawn of his career, in the short-lived punk band The Nipple Erectors (later known as the Nips).
Editor Carl Haber has since had an established career and founded the Rome International Film School. (extract – 1 min 17 sec)
1978: Death Is Their Destiny
This fascinating amateur film of punks on the streets of London in 1978 captures the outfits and irreverent attitudes of the time. Famous faces glimpsed in the full film include Slits singer Ari Up and punk's fashion-designer-in-chief Vivienne Westwood.
The soundtrack to this film - which includes a voice-over from Captain Zip (Phil Munnoch) as well as music of the time, and the voices of Rat, Mouse and Fliss - was added later, in 1991. In this extract the footage is accompanied by X-Ray Spex’s potent anthem ‘Identity’.(extract – 1 min 2 sec)
1978: Don’t Dream It – See It
In this 1978 film from Captain Zip, watch out for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glimpse of punk icon Jordan outside Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s shop at 430 Kings Road, where she worked. (extract – 2 min 57 sec)
1979: Punk Can Take It
Punk Can Take It, featuring eccentric Tenpole Tudor frontman Edward Tudor-Pole, celebrates the achievements of the 'heroes by night' of the British punk movement in the face of 'the apathy of a stagnant England'. Using some great live footage, it berates the Establishment's unending attempts to crush or co-opt the true punk spirit.
Punk Can Take It is narrated by veteran BBC radio commentator John Snagge, who'd delivered national news reports describing the D-Day Landings in 1944. Lured out of retirement for Temple's film, he does an excellent job, lending a distinguished air of gravitas to this punchy promo. (extract – 1 min 43 sec)
1980: Knights Electric
Four rowdy punk teenage boys try it on with four girls they fancy one neon-lit evening at a Great Yarmouth seaside funfair. Meanwhile, the sharply-dressed Knights Electric watch and wait. Exuberantly performed and strikingly shot, this pop music short boasts a superb soundtrack, with great tracks by Madness, John Foxx, The Pretenders, Blondie, the Ruts and Martha and the Muffins. (extract – 1 min 37 sec)
1983: The Destructors
Punk rebellion and anarchy with Peterborough-based punk band The Destructors, six years after their formation. Born in the crucible of punk's genesis in 1977, the band are just beginning to make a name for themselves in the early 1980s. (extract – 1 min 32 sec)
The BFI National Archive holds a magnificent collection of film and television, from the birth of cinema to today.
Explore the Punk on Film collection on BFI Player to see many more beautifully preserved films.
Curator (BFI National Archive):