A zeitgeist is a tricky thing to capture. When you’re in, the spirit of the times can slip away, and when you look back, you might fall into the trap of creating a facsimile that looks like the real thing from afar but misses all the details. As Ferris Bueller said in 1980s“Life goes pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.
In a way, he’s nailed down what makes period scenes so romantic. Nostalgia is a touchstone of our own past, whether it is related to our lives or not. They strip away superfluous detail from life’s silly ways and serve us a sepia-toned scene we can immerse ourselves in with blissful reminiscence. They are happy postcards sent from the era with all the missed trains of the trip thrown aside. But that doesn’t mean they have to be sugar coated either, they are just as they are, and we love them for that.
So whether it was fluffy hair, synths, banking culture or cocaine, the 1980s was an era that offered a wild array of neon street signs as the technological age dawned. stranger things thrived on that, but these are movies we’re watching right now. In fact, it’s those specific movie moments that perfectly distill an entire era down to a few illustrious moments.
We’ve captured some of the best moments of the 1980s on film below.
Five movie scenes that perfectly capture the 1980s:
‘Head Over Heels’ montage – Donnie Darko
All. Absolutely everything about the 1980s is perfectly captured in this stunning footage. In fact, I’m almost tempted to say it’s the greatest retrospective encapsulation of an era ever filmed. Somehow, without it sounding like a forced tapestry, you’ve got the widespread cocaine use, the cult of shiny beauty, an appropriate soundtrack, a junior dance step routine, a little bullying and fashion that doesn’t look like an OTT pastiche.
The whole thing unfolds so poetically that it feels like a backwash that takes you back to that time – a fitting feat given the time-traveling synopsis of the 2001 film. The music often reflects the era in which it was created, given the immediacy and the use of specific studio technology at the time. Thereby, at Donnie Darko The decision to pick an anthemic tune and deliberately match the shots to it proves beautifully effective in bottling up not only the 1980s vistas, but the energy as well.
Lunch time – The breakfast club
In an age of excess and widening tastes, the world was getting smaller and things were getting bigger at the same time. While this lunchtime scene might be rather dry, it brilliantly captures the changing culture of the day. It’s not just the new western introduction of sushi that’s being examined under the microscope, but the rise of individualism and its quirks.
It says a lot about the 80s that while John Bender may be appalled at every strange lunch in front of him, the only one he reviews is the tastiest and most mundane ever. Whether inadvertently or not, it’s a perfect allegory for a time when it wasn’t hip to be square, no matter what Huey Lewis proclaimed as a false prophet.
Sequence “The eye of the tiger” – The King of Kong: A Handful of Quarters
We have strayed somewhere along the line, Friedrich Nietzsche thought of this dilemma long before donkey kong, but the 1981 phenomenon may well have proven him wrong. You see, we hadn’t killed God with technology, we had just found a new one, and his name was Billy Mitchell, Video Gamer of the Century.
If the 1960s were about setting the world in order with dreams of a liberated utopia, the 1980s were the dawn of innocuous distractions. Somehow, this philosophy of frivolity persists. The decade is incredibly alive, in fact, we’re obsessed with it. Kids find the 80s inherently nostalgic for some reason. The gory moment of two men preparing for battle as “Eye of the Tiger” plays in the background is a nice snapshot of the era played ahead.
Speech on political issues – American psycho
In one of the most capitalist restoration configurations in progress, the Patrick Bateman murderer and materialist lists the world’s woes as if repeated directly from a “what to say at dinner” section in QG. He doesn’t adhere to any of his beliefs, and his friends’ taunts show that it’s all just a laughable game.
Nihilism and the notion of self were the dominant tenets of the time. The world’s problems were subsumed in much chatter and thoughtless gestures like Live Aid, but eventually the capitalist engine reached new heights. Bateman recounts them comically before returning to sipping his favorite expensive scotch and seeing what other diners are wearing in one of the greatest satires ever written.
Phoebe Cates steps out of the pool – Fast times at Ridgemont High
It is youth that defines an era. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for us old fuddy-duds to transmit the current air of time. Elvis Presley defined the 1950s even though he was widely condemned by society for rotating his hips, in the 1960s older people still loved jazz as they listened to Beatlemania and so on. Today’s culture is one that is transmitted around the school.
Every generation needs a teen movie, and Fast times at Ridgemont High was the comedy that evoked an encapsulation of the era. The pop riveted in the minds of every high school kid of the era is Phoebe Cates performing gratuitous fantasies. It is the brilliance of the scene that depicts the times. Censorship would go to war with the assimilation of sex into the mainstream, and the films fought with irony. Each era has its own iconography and Cates emerging from the pool certainly falls somewhere in the 1980s lore.
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