There’s no denying that history repeats itself. All you need to do is open a copy of Vogue and see our parents’ fantastic clothes in the photographs they’ve shoved under their bed in embarrassment. Or, you could walk into a fluorescently-lit Murano flat and hear a multitude of students standing on the table projecting “Annie, are you okay?” in Kendrick Lamar’s, King Kunta. That’s all you need to see to understand that past popular culture comes into style on repeat.
Of course, the same can be said for film. One of my earliest memories is sitting in my auntie and uncle’s house, them showing me and my brother copious amounts of important 80s films. These still made their mark on me today. By introducing me to the likes of John Hughes with his 1985 film The Breakfast Club, and Spielberg’s The Goonies (1985), I became aware of the defining teenage years seemingly everyone struggled with. The defiance of these characters was appealing – they continuously broke the rules and went against their parents. Intrigued, I watched more: Dead Poets Society (1989), Dirty Dancing (1987), and Stand by Me (1986). These exuded deep personalities and enticing storylines of rebellion, whilst emerging topical (and controversial) issues such as suicide, teenage pregnancy, and parental pressures.
So, why do the themes of these films come back into fashion? Why do we continue to watch them? Why do we recreate them? Some may claim it’s a lack of creativity – why go through the effort of trying to create a new storyline when we can re-use an old one and improve it with CGI?
You could argue that this is what they’ve done with classics – for example, the revival of Indiana Jones with The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008. The adventure tale depicts the protagonist Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, and his battle against the Soviets, in a quest to find a crystal skull belonging to an extra-terrestrial life form. The movie received mixed reviews because of the difference to the previous plotlines. While I enjoyed it, many I know didn’t enjoy its new alien theme, describing it as “trash”, or “s***”. But, others I know appreciated the film and how much of a “DILF” Indiana Jones was.
On the other hand, the revival of cinema and the recreation of these pieces most likely boils down to generational feelings of nostalgia. Already having a devoted audience (think Ghostbusters (1984), Beetlejuice (1988) and the cartoon favourite The Transformers: The Movie (1986)), the recreation of these classics appeal to a certain demographic. It allows these people to relive their twisted experience of adolescence, without having to endure the spandex and crimped hair. Refashioning these films intrigues younger generations, educates them on debatable topics and encourages them to challenge the society in which they’re ingrained.
We can’t talk about the revival of the 80s without paying homage to the most hyped piece of 80s-influenced, 21st century pop culture. Drawing themes from defining films such as Aliens (1986), Akira (1988), and Back to the Future (1985), it epitomises the archetypal 80s lifestyle which we so heavily romanticise.
This spectacular science fiction piece encapsulates the spirit of 80’s youth adventure, from its idealised clothing styles to its adorable outcast characters. Ex-Heathers (1988) protagonist Winona Ryder as a hysterical mother is simply the icing on the cake. With the use of malfunctioning electricity, walkie-talkies and Toto’s Africa, we are immersed into the lives of the bicycle ridings young heroes, who learn the meaning of friendship along the way. If that doesn’t scream Spielberg then I don’t know what does.
So, there. Now you’ll understand why you stand in line at the Grosvenor in 2019 waiting to see the new sequel of Indiana Jones. Or, when you’re sat down in the front row after paying a month’s worth of rent on one cinema ticket, cracking your neck to see Beetlejuice 2, wondering why. You’re already sold on the film because 80s pop culture is already deep-seated in your life.