Pria Viswalingam & crew members at Cambridge University (Photo: © Fork Films)

The Western world seems to be in decline – but what is really happening? What are the forces behind this?

Five years ago Pria Viswalingam approached me to join him in producing a film on the topic.

“We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs.”      Kenneth Clark

All civilisations rise and fall. For 300 years, the Judeo-Christian West has been the world’s pre-eminent civilisation. So, where is the West on the timeline? Many have theorised about the fall of western civilisation but now we appear to have the evidence.

Low birth rates, ageing populations, debt-laden economies and immigration – the West consumes without consequence, loves without longevity and lives without meaning. Peak oil, climate change, the GFC is the world without. Decadence, a lush essay-style documentary filmed in ten countries, is about the world within, about us. About what we have gained and lost. About a new renaissance or a final dark age?

You choose.

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‘Decadence: Decline of the Western World’ is the result and it is going to start screening at Roseville Cinema in Sydney on 1 December and at the Nova Carlton in Melbourne from 8 December before select international screenings.

It is a thought provoking and timely production and I do hope that you get a chance to see it.

For more information, you can head to the website which provides much more information, screening details and more.

This review by Carissa Pritchard of Film Ink:

The feature length documentary, Decadence: Decline of the Western World, evolved from a six-part television series, Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life, commissioned by SBS. Written, directed and hosted by Australian journalist, Pria Viswalingam, it travels across the US, Britain, Europe, Iraq, India and Thailand to explore five core themes: money, democracy, education, family and religion.

Where this year’s Oscar-winning documentary The Inside Job left you lost amongst complicated economic theory, Decadence avoids it – instead addressing the impact of capitalism on our personal lives. Melding shocking statistics with social discourse from many of the world’s greatest minds (Noam Chomsky and Australia’s Clive Hamilton), it puts forth disturbing fact and compels us to ask unsettling questions. America is one of the most affluent countries in the world, yet it consumes three quarters of the world’s anti-depressants. Why has the greatest prosperity led to the greatest level of unhappiness? This documentary isn’t only applicable to intellectuals and left-wing evangelists; it’s insightful viewing for anyone who lives in the West.

Suggesting that all civilisations rise and fall, it wonders where the West is on the timeline. Amongst peak oil, climate change and the GFC, it doesn’t look good. But Decadence isn’t a doomsday prophecy. Amongst individualisation gone mad, it still suggests that there’s hope for humanity. Ultimately it asks, is the West in a final dark age or a new renaissance?

You decide.


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