JOHN HUGHES: VISIONARY OR NOSTALGIA? IAN CLAYDON
all of this precisely true, or has time played with the facts, changing a successful filmmaker into the figurehead of some kind of sentimental zeitgeist? It has been twenty five years since the release of The Breakfast Club so is it possible that the film has become warped by the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia? In a time when eighties resurgence is apparent all around, from the scores of over-produced new music, to the BBC’s recent eighties season, to Hollywood’s lack of originality regurgitating eighties remakes every year. Through all this have we not garnered a new found appreciation for eighties movies? For the appealingly grainy cinematography, dated clothing, cheesy music and naïve optimism ingrained in everything ‘eighties’, turning them into some kind of romanticised ideal of a ‘better time’. And the idea that Hughes was a pioneer of the genre, well it’s just not true. The Outsiders, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Risky Business, not to men-
THE BREAKFAST CLUB | A&M FILMS
THIS YEAR THE Oscars honoured writer and director John Hughes - who died following a heart attack at the end of last year with a five minute collection of clips of his movies, followed by actors from the movies gathering on stage. The unified mumblings across the world were of ‘wow they’re looking old’, apart from Anthony Michael Hall of course: ‘he’s looking surprisingly good.’ They described Hughes as ‘special’, ‘brilliant’, ‘gifted’ and a ‘genius.’ It was pathos made almost cringeworthy by the appearance of Hughes’ family, and it all felt a bit contrived. The disquiet was likely due to the fact that Hughes never won an Oscar, the only nomination was for Best Original Score on Home Alone, and Hughes had retreated into a self-imposed exile not having stepped foot in Hollywood since 1994. Best known for the commercial successes, including Home Alone and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Hughes also forever endeared himself to fans with the widely acclaimed teen movies The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. His lovelorn tales of teenage alienation gave catharsis to the generation before. He is thought of as innovative and original for portraying teenagers as empathetic characters, a polar opposite to the almost contemptuous attitudes the ‘teen pics’ of the eighties (and still today) seem to have towards their audience, and he is known for how he single-handedly made the teen drama into a legitimate genre of its own. Of course, he unwittingly paved the way for many imitations and homages - Saved By The Bell, anyone? Without Hughes the TV teen-drama explosion of the nineties wouldn’t have happened. To this day many filmmakers cite Hughes as a main influence, including Judd Apatow (Superbad) and Kevin Smith (Clerks). But is
The University of Kent Film Society's magazine, Issue 7.1: Winter 2010 Comic books, horror, John Hughes...and the Human Centipede...