Henry Rollins, the legendary frontman of hardcore punk band Black Flag, has named five of his favourite films of all time. The collection reads as not only an essential watch list for all those who haven’t seen the five classics mentioned but also a keen insight into the intensity that turned Henry Rollins into an icon.
In 1980, after becoming a fan of Black Flag, Rollins began exchanging letters with bassist Chuck Dukowski and later decided to invite the entire band to stay in his parents’ home while they toured the East Coast. At the time, Black Flag vocalist Dez Cadena was becoming desperate to move away from singing duties to focus entirely on the band’s guitar role, thus freeing up a frontman spot. It was a situation that presented an undeniable opportunity for Rollins.
After a partial audition for the role at Tu Casa Studio in New York City, Black Flag eventually asked Rollins to become the band’s new face and vocals. At the time, Rollins was working as the manager of an ice cream shop, and his options were limited. Holding an ice cream scoop in one hand, he received the call offering him the mic. From then on in, Rollins never looked back. Fully immersing himself in the genre of punk, the new Black Flag vocalist became obsessed with the music and, in later years, chose to write about the music as a columnist for both Rolling Stone and LA Weekly.
While his arrival onto the forefront of punk music may have been a fortunate one given his untypical route to music, Rollins was always destined to express his creative vision in one art form or another. Since his success with Black Flag, the musician has gone on to forge a career in film and television ever since appearing in independent films with the band.
Clearly getting a taste for the big screen, Rollins has notably appeared in films such as Wrong Turn, Bad Boys II, The Chase and more as his acting skills progressed to a higher level. While his transformation into actor might have come as a surprise to some Black Flag fans, Rollins has always noted his keen admiration for cinema and reference numerous different films as a source of inspiration.
“The Graduate directed by Mike Nichols. It’s just a perfect film,” Rollins said in an article for Rotten Tomatoes explaining his five favourite films. “It’s just a beautiful, perfectly written… perfectly shot, perfectly acted film, where you have Dustin Hoffman who has bedded both Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross and he breaks up the marriage,” he added.
“The thing is so well written; the adult themes and just how screwed up adults are is on full display in The Graduate. You can tell all these people are just so damn talented, and you look at a young Dustin Hoffman and you go, ‘Damn, man. Look at the career you’re about to have, dude. You’ve got it.’ His talent was just so huge yet so innate in that he’s not gonna fail.”
Rollins was quick to point out the pioneering Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa as a major influence on his life, describing him as his “favourite director” before adding that Kurosawa “was just a master movie maker. Master writer. Master cameraman. The dude knew how to make a movie. And Seven Samurai is just a great example of it.”
When discussing Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic Apocalypse Now, Rollins said: “As I got older—I’m 55 now—that film is still relevant to me. And it still speaks to me on a lot of levels.” It’s one of the most intense films Coppola ever created but there’s something clicked for Rollins.
“What Apocalypse Now — I finally figured it out — it’s just about insanity, which is nothing but what war is. It’s just a bunch of people being completely insane. And it captures the insanity of human conflict perfectly. It could’ve been any war.”
See Rollins’ favourite films, below.
Henry Rollins’ 5 favourite films of all time:
- The Graduate – Mike Nicholls, 1967.
- Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa, 1954.
- All the Presidents Men – Alan J. Pakula, 1976.
- Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola, 1979
- Animal House – John Landis, 1978.