Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): New Age 1987 - 1990 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 26

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Age 1987 - 1990 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 26


Twenty-sixth chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump)


View "Chapter 26: New Age"


New Age

There was something in the air. Perhaps it was the breeze of "Glasnost" spreading outward from Russia, as the Soviet government once hoped Communism itself would. Maybe it was the end of the Reagan era in America, with a restless populace hoping to move away from the dominant spirit of hardheaded materialism (well-represented in today's second clip). Or it could have been generational - after all, these were the years when the baby boomers, onetime youthful rebels now on the cusp of middle age, with families, mortgages, and careers, came into their own, culturally speaking.

The engineers of pop culture are always going to be people between about thirty-five and fifty-five and the boomers were just entering that age group. Sure enough, more than half the filmmakers in this chapter were born between 1946 and 1954 - and most likely this new, entirely postwar generation brought a new perspective to film. Anyway, for whatever reason, there was a loosening, a freshness, and a spirit of wondrous inquiry to cinema, television, and pop culture in general in the late eighties and well into the early nineties. You could call it a mood of curious mysticism.


In the last five clips of the chapter, it's particularly noticeable: a sense of awe, as if an awakened consciousness is suddenly stirring and looking at the world around it quizzically. It's in the melancholy music played as a cheerful child's face slows to a deadening halt on an eerie blue television set; in a chillingly evocative recitation of a dream about golden eggs spinning through space; in the voice of someone - God? - whispering through a cornfield; or the wistful, was-it-a-dream recollection of an astronaut, who recalls staring up at a blue marble representing the only home he's ever known.

The heightened sensitivity of the age took in not just the present but the past (and future), as several of today's clips show. We end by looking back on an era before movie (or in this case, television) cameras existed, with what seems a better-than-ever sense of history's weight. And yet at the same time, throughout this chapter there's a sense of weightlessness as one decade ends, and another begins - the Wall's come tumbling down and there's a bracing, "alive" quality to the open air.


I have covered today's films here, here, and here.

Tomorrow: A Dark Dawn
Yesterday: The Weird Eighties



Visit the Video Gallery for a complete list of the chapters so far.

2 comments:

Shubhajit said...

You seem to have considerable interest for animation films. I get around to watching animation films only once in a while, so there are quite a few acclaimed ones I haven't seen it.

Anyway, I've seen 2 of the movies belonging to this compilation - Wall Street, which wasn't just pertinent then, but more so over the last few years (post the financial meltdown in US); and Kieslowski's staggering & hauntingly beautiful masterpiece, Dekalog.

80's were really a slow decade for good cinema!!!

Joel Bocko said...

The 80s were my second-least favorite cinematic decade, topped only by the past one. That said, there was some good stuff. I do find though (in both eras, though particularly so the 00s) that it tends more to be on the margins than the mainstream. Whereas in the past there were great movies that were popular as well as obscure, this seemed to become less true over time, unfortunately.

I do have a thing for animation. And I'd rank Brave Little Toaster over Toy Story 3, for sure! (and they both pretty much tell the same story)