The 12 Best Documentaries About the 70s

Jul 14, 2023 | Best Of, History

The 1970s were a decade of immense change, full of memorable moments that have left an indelible mark on our culture. Documentaries from this era offer an invaluable insight into the struggles and triumphs experienced in those years, offering a look back at pivotal events with fresh perspectives. From the political upheaval of Watergate to the glamour of Studio 54, these films capture moments that shaped the course of history, as well as everyday snapshots of life in the 70s.


The Seventies (2022)

The world was forever changed when television burst into households across America. With its captivating visuals and ability to transmit information at lightning speed, it quickly became a household staple. As this technological advancement took hold, it also captured some of the most pivotal moments in history.




The Decade You Were Born-The 1970’s (2012)

The ’70s was an era filled with lively music, flared jeans and big hair. If you were born in that decade, you belong to Generation X. Your parents, who were part of the famed Baby Boomer generation, lived under the influence of a materialistic culture.






Gay Sex in the 70’s (2005)

During the late 1960s and early 1980s, a sexually charged atmosphere permeated the gay community in the United States. This was a time of post-Stonewall liberation, where individuals who identified as gay were able to express their sexuality without fear or shame.







The Best Free Documentaries About the 70s


1. GI Junkies: The Forgotten Veterans

The Vietnam War has left a lasting legacy of pain and suffering, not only on the lives of those who fought in it but also on their families. Unfortunately, many veterans have been forgotten due to their addictions – whether that be to heroin or methadone. As a result, they are denied access to the GI Bill and medical benefits they deserve for risking their lives. This documentary looks at these “GI Junkies” and how life has been for them since returning home from war.


2. BBC Northern Ireland Bloody Friday

On 21 July 1972, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) set off an unprecedented series of bombings in Belfast known as Bloody Friday. In the space of eighty minutes, twenty-two bombs exploded killing nine people and injuring 130 more. To commemorate this tragic event 40 years later, BBC Northern Ireland released a documentary to remember those who lost their lives that day. This article will discuss some of the best documentaries about 70s focusing on Bloody Friday and its aftermath.


3. The Cultural Impact (1974 Documentary)

The 1970s were a time of immense cultural change, and some of the most insightful documentaries to come out of that era were those that explored its impact. From political upheaval to new social movements, these films provide an invaluable window into history for today’s viewers. Here are our picks for the best documentaries about 70s culture, offering a unique perspective on this fascinating decade.


4. April 3, 1974 – Day of the Killer Tornadoes

On April 3, 1974, a day that will forever be remembered as the Day of the Killer Tornadoes, an unprecedented disaster struck towns and cities across America. The Super Outbreak saw tornadoes wreaking havoc in Xenia, Cincinnati and Louisville with catastrophic consequences. This 1978 documentary captures the devastation in vivid detail while exploring how preparation and emergency coordination can help mitigate such destruction. Tune in to witness one of nature’s most devastating forces as it unfolds before you.


5. A pioneer of Future Music

In April 2007, the Netherlands-based VPRO broadcasted a documentary by Frank Scheffers that explored the 1970s. This era was filled with many remarkable events and changes that shaped our world today. From new technologies to incredible political movements, this decade had it all. Dive into this article to learn about some of the best documentaries created about the 70s and explore how these films capture its essence.


6. Flowers of Darkness. Heroin 1970’s New York City

The 1970s was a time of immense change and growth, not only in the United States but around the world. It saw an increase in civil rights activism, a push for equal rights, and a rise in new musical genres that inspired generations to come. But it also had its dark sides – drug use being one of them. Flowers of Darkness is an old school documentary which takes us back to New York City during this decade, exploring the heroin epidemic that engulfed many communities. As we take this journey through history with Flowers of Darkness we get insight into what life was like for those affected by substance abuse during this era. A fascinating look at how far we’ve come since then, and the lessons still relevant today!


7. Electric Dreams – BBC Documentary – The 1970s

The decade of the 70s was a time of great technological advancement, and it’s fascinating to take a look back at how far we’ve come since then. The BBC documentary Electric Dreams offers viewers an in-depth exploration into the ways technology changed during this era. From developments in computer science to advances in communication, this documentary provides an insightful glimpse into the past that will leave you inspired by our progress. Whether you’re looking for educational entertainment or just curious about what life was like before smartphones, Electric Dreams is sure to provide some fascinating insights into the 1970s.


8. London Council Estates (1971) – Where the Houses Used to Be

The 1970s was an era of great social change, particularly in the UK where a large number of high-density housing developments were built by local councils to house growing populations. London Council Estates (1971) is a documentary that looks at the experiences of those who lived on one such estate – Battersea’s Doddington and Rollo estate – through the voices of its residents. From young mothers to working fathers, elderly women to teenagers and children, this film provides an insight into how they felt about their new living situation and explores issues such as loneliness and isolation.


9. Police Station – The 1970s (Met Police Film)

Have you ever wondered what it was like to work in a police station during the 1970s? Have you asked yourself how officers navigated their days amidst the hustle and bustle of London life? A dramatised film by Met Police offers viewers an inside look at Gipsy Hill’s police station, providing insight into law enforcement during this decade. Police Station – The 1970s is a great way to explore one of the most fascinating time periods in history.


9. 1970s London – Poverty in the 70s

Do you want to know what life was like in London during the 1970s? This documentary takes viewers on a journey through the city, exploring its culture and poverty. Learn about how people of different backgrounds lived and worked together, as well as the struggles they faced. Discover how Londoners were able to come together despite their differences to create an amazing community. The film also highlights some of the social issues that existed during this era such as health care and housing shortages. Get ready for an eye-opening look at one of England’s most iconic cities!


10. The Arab world in the 1970s

The 1970s marked a period of great change and long-term effects in the Arab world. This two-part series revisits this decade, exploring how it impacted the Middle East. In Part 1 we take an in-depth look at how these changes affected different countries, from politics to culture. We also explore how these changes have shaped modern society in the region today. In Part 2 we examine the legacy of this decade and discuss its implications for future generations of Arabs. Join us as we chart this important period in history!


11. 1970s Liverpool

Take a trip back in time to the 1970s and explore Liverpool, an area that was proposed as one of the ‘Education Priority Areas’ by the Government. In this documentary we take a look at how this program affected educational performance for those living in deprived areas. Get ready to experience life in 70s Liverpool – all with up close and personal accounts from locals!


12. The Rough NYC Streets In 1970 – A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

This documentary takes us back to the NYC streets in 1970, when Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters song was released. It captures the challenges people were having at that time – from homeless individuals living on the street to those suffering with mental illness and drug addiction who were housed in mental hospitals. I interview a group of runaways and hear their heartbreaking stories about how they ran away from horrible parental situations. I also talk to a man whose parents, wife, and child died in an accident he caused while driving without seatbelts. This movie is being posted so viewers can get insight into what life was like in NYC during this era – which many subscribers comment as even worse today than it was back then.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B