Soul Boys of the Western World DVD Review

     Actors: Tony Hadley, John Keeble
  • Director: George Hencken
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: September 29, 2015
  • Run Time: 111 minutes


            Some music documentaries have the ability to tell human interest stories which are elevated beyond mere fan appreciation, to provide a narrative that can be fascinating to those unfamiliar with the band as easily as those who own all of their CDs. Soul Boys of the Western World is not one of those movies, instead made in a way that is likely only to appeal to those with a sense of nostalgia for this music. Though I was familiar with a few hit songs, my knowledge of Spandau Ballet prior to watching this film was virtually nonexistent. More importantly, after watching the documentary, I am no more a fan than I was before I wasn’t even sure who they were.


            An even bigger issue with Soul Boys of the Western World than my lack of interest with the subject matter is director George Hencken’s obvious fan appreciation. Although there are hints at drug use and battling egos within the band dynamic, Hencken chooses to gloss over many of the areas of conflict and ugliness with a pure love of the music. While this may feed the fanbase of this minor ‘80s British New Wave band, it leads much of the documentary to feel like an unnecessarily biased love letter. If I wanted to appreciate this mediocre music, I would listen to their CDs. Other than the random bits of rare archival footage, there is not much Soul Boys of the Western World can offer which couldn’t be found in their music.


            Most American audiences are likely to know just one song in the repertoire of Spandau Ballet, which is somewhat inconsistent with the arrogance of the band and the irrational blubbering of their UK fanbase. This is what I imagine a documentary about One Direction will look like in 30 years. And even if you don’t have a problem with the style of 80s music that they played, it takes an extra level of patience to deal with the band’s pretentious attitudes when it comes to their creative expression in all other areas, including their often handmade outfits. This is clear in the film’s poster art, taken from the band first visit to New York City. The way they are dressed makes it look like they are trying to put on an all-adult performance of Peter Pan, deluding themselves into thinking that this made them more genuine artists than more successful bands.


            The DVD includes only a trailer, offering no additional material for the fans. I did not mind. If it is possible, this film made me less of a fan.  


    Entertainment Value: 4.5 /10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10

    Historical Significance:  3/10

    Special Features: 1/10

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