”End of the Century’ starts, literally, at the end of their career, at the 2002 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where the Ramones were voted in on their first ballot. Joey Ramone had passed away the previous year, and it would be the last time Dee Dee, Tommy, Joey and Marky Ramone would be together before Dee Dee’s death a few months later. Tommy Ramone, who would later go on to produce for The Replacements, recalled their beginnings as four alienated teens in Forest Hills, Queens. Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Tom Erdelyi had little in common with each other or the rest of their neighborhood, with only a mutual admiration of the underground music of artists like The New York Dolls and Iggy and the Stooges to bring them together. Four average kids with little hope for the future, who formed a band despite not really knowing how to play any instruments and became infamous, if not exactly famous.
The beauty of “End of the Century” comes from the veritable cornucopia of Ramones footage, from the very early days of their career at the celebrated CGBG’s in New York City to their final song played at their last show. For Ramones fans to finally see what those first gigs were like, when the band was at their rawest, long before New York’s hippest denizens like Andy Warhol discovered the band, let alone the rest of the world, will undoubtedly bring a sense of euphoria, as will seeing footage shot by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, in the back of a passenger van with the Ramones twenty years later, driving through the streets of Rio De Janeiro as thousands of screaming fans mob the van. Additionally, testimonials from contemporaries like Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, “Punk” magazine co-founder Legs McNeil (author of “Please Kill Me,” the indispensable book about the rise of punk rock) and the late Clash front man Joe Strummer, and from those who were influenced by the band, including Rob Zombie and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, shows just how much admiration the band had within the musical community.
”End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones” is one of those rare films that, despite having a near two hour running time and being very complete in its focus, one still wishes was much longer and hope includes much bonus material on DVD. A tightly constructed film, always fascinating and compelling, “Century” demands additional viewings.Rating: A