+ high-res version

Rewatched: 17 December

I have more affection for some of the later movies that play out partly as homages to American Graffiti, especially Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused, but I do also admire George Lucas’ second effort as a director, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most influential Hollywood films of its time; countless coming-of-age dramas and comedies owe it a debt. A somewhat idyllic snapshot of US teenagers on the cusp of adulthood is presented, but Lucas’ love for his characters is evident from the get-go, and it’s hard not to succumb to his romanticising of the early 1960s, with all of the attendant hot rod culture, diners and early pop music that features. The film is a warm celebration of America’s past, and of youthful, carefree innocence, albeit very much from a white, middle-class perspective – only in its final moments does it acknowledge that darker days lay ahead for America’s baby boomers. (****)

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