For Reel

American Graffiti (1973)
October 23, 2016, 11:16 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George Lucas
5 Stars
american-graffitiThat George Lucas mindfully sought the approval of audiences with this unabashed crowd-pleaser is a sentiment that becomes complicated when one considers its formal inventiveness. While Lucas’ current reputation would suggest he’s a man who became increasingly tone-deaf throughout his career in attempting to cater to all audiences, American Graffiti found Lucas directing a picture for the masses that they didn’t even know they wanted—if the soundtrack full of pop hits was a draw, the film’s lasting impression is how well it deals with a specific period in history. It’s a film about the mood of a place more than it is about narrative, and even in that regard it is deceptively complicated. The universality of the film has much to do with the fact that any viewers past their teens remember what it felt like when adolescence came to a close. This summer night in 1962 is filled with aimless cruising, where young white men chase elusive prizes and ponder about the man on the other end of the radio. Whether or not one has filled a night with conversations at stoplights, the texture of the film feels lived in—if American Graffiti is a remarkable historical document, its greatest success is in creating a mythical, universal evocation of what nostalgia feels like.

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