In my exploration of the media that forms the foundation of Eightiesology, I’ve come to realize that each medium has carried much of its enthusiasm into the current era. A band can still incite intense emotion during a concert and their music still soundtracks essential memories-in-progress. Television shows have very clearly never been as well-crafted as they are now. I just saw the Giants win a Super Bowl and it was as proud and exciting a moment as any sporting event I witnessed in my youth.
Movies on the other hand have evolved into a different sort of beast. I’m no less a film geek than I ever was, in fact my sensibilities have expanded to respect the higher quality movies of both the present and the past. But the core cinema of Eightiesology were the event pictures, those that have come to weave their way into the tapestry of both that particular decade as well as film history. And for a child of the ‘80s, they entered our eyes and filled our brains with wonderment and stupefaction, creating an obsessive need to relive the adventures of a time-traveling high schooler, a scruffy-looking nerf herder, a millionaire in a bat suit or an adventuring archaeologist. The images of these films branded not only our minds but also our imagination and spirit, forming the foundation of future memories we would simply never escape.
This year we saw three films that referenced this age of cinema: The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and the latest Indiana Jones film. Do we know if these films will impact the youth like Star Wars, Back to the Future and Batman once did? Unfortunately the answer to this is going to take some time to acquire. But more importantly, can we as adults pick up that old viewfinder and see these newer movies with the same astonishment we had as kids or has the magic of cinema dissipated along with our natural hair color and unbridled optimism? To find that answer, perhaps the best route is through Indiana Jones himself who returned this summer in a franchise born in the ‘80s.
The archaeologist’s first venture, Raiders of the Lost Ark, is a virtually flawless movie, to a child or an adult. It’s also an iconic masterpiece, developed and at its height of popularity in the ‘80s, but timeless in its appeal. As a kid, you wanted to reenact that type of adventure in your backyard. But then you got to grow up with the Indiana Jones films and that’s when something odd happened…they never quite went away. Adolescence and puberty were never going to stop you from still enjoying these films on a Saturday afternoon. A lot of this had to do with the movies’ skewing more to adults than other top ‘80s films had. But it also helped that the franchise never seemed to go into hibernation.