A brilliant work of popular art, it redefined nostalgia as a marketable commodity and established a new narrative style, with locale replacing plot, that has since been imitated to the point of ineffectiveness.
George Lucas and crew perfectly encapsulated the teenage Rock and Roll experience of the late 50's/early 60's by smartly tying together multiple memorable stories that work off one another as a whole narrative; a narrative which takes place in a single night (it was certainly the fast life!) and it's all set to one of the best film soundtracks of all time. Furthermore, the film boasts a perfect cast (many big names made their breakthrough here) with each of them giving different and memorable personalities to populate their gorgeously retro environment.
One of my favorites ever. All that happens on that day changes everyone's life. Each and every single scene is important. Everything beautifully portrayed. Cute Carol already stole my heart. No pedo. I'm also 15.
It isn’t simply a nostalgic movie, it’s a nostalgic movie about nostalgia. Lucas could have set the film in 1959, when Steve, Curt, and John were still in high school and still cruising night after endless night. Instead, Graffiti begins right as the fun is about to end, and gives its characters just enough self-awareness to recognize that this is last call at the party. George Lucas isn’t the only one mourning for this magical lost era; the characters onscreen mourn right along with him.
American Graffiti exists not so much in its individual stories as in its orchestration of many stories, its sense of time and place. Although it is full of the material of fashionable nostalgia, it never exploits nostalgia. In its feeling for movement and music and the vitality of the night—and even in its vision in white—it is oddly closer to some early Fellini than to the recent American past of, say, The Last Picture Show or Summer of '42.
On the surface, Lucas has made a film that seems almost artless; his teenagers cruise Main Street and stop at Mel’s Drive-In and listen to Wolfman Jack on the radio and neck and lay rubber and almost convince themselves their moment will last forever. But the film’s buried structure shows an innocence in the process of being lost, and as its symbol Lucas provides the elusive blonde in the white Thunderbird -- the vision of beauty always glimpsed at the next intersection, the end of the next street.
There's a sense of beauty and dread that's cleverly injected into George Lucas' American Graffiti, a tone poem and ode to the music, cars and culture of the early '60s. On one level, the film is a staggeringly thoughtful slice of Americana – one night in the eyes of several young teens looking for love, adventure and fun. But on another level, there's a genuine sense of apprehension. The world is quickly catching up to our heroes, and soon they'll be flung head-first into Vietnam, the hippie movement, and a social revolution
Lucas doesn't disappoint, for a guy who is famous for his location shots, he is just driving in one car, a good old car.
George Lucas is a formidable filmmaker. Especially the randomness of his vision. The singularity that cannot be unmasked in the traffic of the ideas bombarded by him over his career. And as one does, as any filmmaker would do, he dives in on genre with utmost honesty and no bars holding him back. This film that reminds me of Richard Linklater's Dazed And Confused and Everybody Wants Some is a testimonial to what I think was the start off for the coming-of-genre. At least, in a more successful way. And even though it might not have set a trend for the other filmmakers, the unique elements driving this one long adventurous night is not the elements but their elaborative narrative structure.
For instance if looked at the type of the film he has made, the sketch scenes are the bane of its existence. Good or bad, that is what we will get, have and deserve for consenting on driving along with these eccentric fellows. But as mentioned it is not enacted elaborative nature of the sketch but the meticulous branches it embraces. Those deep character peaks that broadens you mind and widens the theme giving the opportunity to let the makers gloat and enjoy what they have earned.
And it has to be earned. Celebration doesn't come through its dutiful or necessary obligations but a well earned prophecy that it had already proclaimed in all its conscious behavior. Now drunk and completely full, the film has to just fire the repercussions that these characters had been inadvertently causing both to them and the environment they find palpable. The result is George Lucas's American Graffiti smartly and ambitiously pulling off a long sitcom special show or a finale, with a warm, sensible and a happy ending, just as the Saturday family matinee shows used to, in those days.
This is definitely one of the most influential of all coming-of-age films. I assume that this movie has established a new narrative style, and has proved that nostalgic films are not necessarily made for the sake of nostalgia, for it captures the zeitgeist of the 1960s America instead of mimicking it. A notable example of the influence of American Graffiti is Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused. And while I wasn't as engaged and invested in the characters of the former as I was with of the latter, American Graffiti admittedly is the more mature and thought-provoking of the two. The characters here have some depth you would probably never see in slice-of-life movies. And this comes from the sharp dialogue that fleshed out the characters throughout the movie's running time in a very subtle way.
Some characters have better and more well-developed arcs than the others. They all are relatable, somewhat likable, and played by very good actors who did their best in their roles; but some character arcs feel as if they aren't fully-developed and lack some pieces in the middle. Ron Howard's character, Steve is a case in point; although I was quite invested in his character by the end of the movie.
This leads us to my second issue with this movie, which I mentioned above. It's that the movie took me a little while to get into its characters and whole the story in general. I think the reason of this problem is that the movie promised me from its very beginning that it would focus on the characters' story-lines to flesh them out; not their journeys. Don't get me wrong, I adore slice-of-life and road movies, and I also knew that American Graffiti is this kind of a movie. But I guess the first minutes would a bit misleading, and therefore it took me sometime for the movie to draw me in.
I can't praise the movie's soundtrack enough! I mean, it's absolutely one of the greatest film soundtracks ever! The movie wouldn't have been so nostalgic, if it wasn't for its killer soundtrack. It is a key factor in capturing the era's spirit, and also in giving the movie its distinctive bitter-sweet vibe. I think I won't stop listening to it for a long time!
American Graffiti is also a proof that George Lucas is a great director as he is a great writer. I know that the dialogue is one of the film's best merits; but man, the camera work is so exquisite, and the color-grading is superb and quite expressive. The movie also has some brilliant moments of scene-blocking that, once again, gave the movie its evocative atmosphere.
Also ich weiß echt nicht, was die Leute alle an diesem Film finden. Mag
sein, daß es einfach nicht meine Art Film ist, aber ich habe das
Gefühl, der Streifen lebt vor allem von der Sentimentalität der
Die Quintessenz, die ich persönlich aus diesem Film ziehe ist: Typen
sind alles Trottel und die Weiber alles Schlampen und zwar schon mit 16
Nun könnte man annehmen, daß das eigentlich schon genug Raum für eine
Story bietet, diese ist aber eigentlich kaum vorhanden. Der Film ist so
öde wie sonst nix. Ich kann mich durchaus für Filme des New Hollywood
begeistern, aber der hier zündet bei mir kein Stück. Story öde,
Schauspieler blaß... nix für mich.