Last week we looked at the considerable brilliance of the music from the boomer generation. Continuing our nostalgic look back on the pop culture of that time, let’s take a look at some of those movies that made the era so memorable. From the rise of the auteur filmmaker, to the introduction of the blockbuster, to some of the greatest films of all time — revist the boomer era through films.
Hard to believe, but this is one of the first films to explore what life was like as a young person, told from a young person’s perspective. Dustin Hoffman starred as a young recent college graduate spending one aimless summer trying to decide what to do with the rest of his life.
One of the most game-changing films to hit Hollywood. This psychedelic road trip movie, following two bikers on the outskirts of regular society not only addressed the feelings of the younger generation at the time, but also kick-started the auteur filmmaking movement in which artists told complex stories with hard-to-love characters outside the studio system.
Still considered by many to be the greatest film of all time. The compelling tale of an Italian American mafia family and the one son who is dragged into a life of crime featured amazing performances from the likes of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton and Robert Duvall. Though the film still holds up as a masterpiece all these years later, you might not realize just how much the filmmaking inspired so many films to follow.
The highly influential and ground-breaking film that made a whole generation afraid to go in the water. The tense, terrifying and terrifically entertaining adventure about a deadly shark terrorizing a small island community helped launched the career of Steven Spielberg and created the phenomenon of the summer blockbuster.
All the President’s Men
Watergate and the Vietnam War was a dark time in modern political history when Americans lost faith in their politicians and arguably that relationship still hasn’t healed. It was also a time when films began to ask those questions and take those stands that mirrored what was happened in real life. This expertly made thriller told the story of the uncovering of one of the biggest political coverups of all time and started a sort of rebel movement in Hollywood.
Saturday Night Fever
Whether you bought into the disco craze or not, this movie was an inescapable movement of cool in the 70s. While we all think about John Travolta striking that iconic pose in that equally iconic white suit, the movie spoke to much more than the people that lived for dancing and nightlife. It was about latching on to something you’re good at and following that passion even while the rest of life is never so simple.
The movie that took us to a galaxy far, far away. It’s easy to forget what a gamble this movie was, with George Lucas producing the movie largely on his own and most of his filmmaker friends telling him a story with puppets and robots would make him a laughing stock. Well Lucas laughed all the way to the bank and the movie going public was treated to an experience they had never seen before.
The National Lampoon was a pretty important voice for the boomer generation, with their absurd and pointed comedy speaking directly to the youth at the time. Once they got into the movie making business, their status as pop culture heroes was pretty well established. But this outrageous, politically incorrect and hilarious comedy about the worst fraternity on campus was the closest you could get to recreating a party on screen.
The Vietnam War was such a significant part of this time that its imprint on art of the era was unavoidable. It was an ugly and unpopular war and some of Hollywood’s most respected directors took the subject matter to explore the darkness of humanity. This became likely the most iconic of all films on the subject, exploring how man can lose his soul in the midst of war.
The Big Chill
As the 80s rolled around, boomers saw a shift in their role in films. No longer were they the young graduate, but now cast as the adults looking back on their days of youth. This nostalgia-infused drama about a group of friends reuniting for a funeral was likely one of the first times many boomers saw their generation depicted in this light as the mature grown-ups.
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