Our ongoing Favorite Summers retrospective has thrown the past into a painful (but hilarious) clarity. Saying"The films of the '80s and '90s are dated!" is like pointing out the sky is blue, but I do think that the past 30 years were more awkwardly captured than the '60s and '70s were before them. Despite the clothes and typewriters, All the President's Men seems far less dated than The X-Files: Fight the Future, and I can't put my finger on why this is except for a vague notion of cultural relevance, and the fact that '70s sideburns and tight pants will always look cool.
Perhaps nothing defines this better than the '80s Cold War films. That decade took our Soviet paranoia to a level of shrillness. In my Russian history classes, we used to joke about how much we feared the Soviets and how much of our dread was fueled by the movies, films that are now nothing but pure cheese after Gorbachev. But they're pretty incredible relics because of the sheer terror they're filled with. To paraphrase my esteemed colleague Scott Weinberg
, if all that remained of our civilization was Rocky IV,
what the hell would archaeologists think? The only conclusion you could come to was that the Soviet Empire was something akin to the Huns, a terrifying force that had attacked the North American continent for decades. I mean, freedom's up against the ropes ... does the crowd understand
? Those futuristic scholars won't, unless they find the right history book, and not a copy of Red Dawn.
So, here's your midweek Cinematical
essay question -- what are some films that are terribly outdated to the point that they warp a historical outlook? What films are so dated that they're nearly unwatchable? What about archiac movie conventions? Costumes, clothing and technology are acceptable answers, but I'd love some really creative examples.