Movie Moments: 1980s
This week we return to my latest series of meanders through the past seven decades. In Movie Moments, we’re looking at what was topping the charts at the box office, some of the biggest names around, and which films mean the most to me when I look back in time. And there will even be a spot of music each time to bring back memories. We began in the 1950s; and moved on to the 1960s. Last month we looked at the 1970s. Which means that today, our stroll down movie memory lane ends up in the 1980s.
This is the decade in which our love affair with life in London finally came to an end and we moved out to the suburbs. The town of Dartford was only half a mile outside the Greater London boundary, so it was hardly an adventurous move; and it didn’t have a cinema, so we still tended to go back into the city for our films.
Looking at the top movies of this decade, there are two trends that jump out at me. Firstly, there was an increase in graphic violence. In 1984 a future Governor of California burst on to our screens and as The Terminator told us: “I’ll be back.” And four years later, Bruce Willis introduced us to maverick New York City policeman, John McClane, in the first of the Die Hard series. There were also a lot of very funny films such as: Ghostbusters, Beverley Hills Cop, Crocodile Dundee; and Police Academy. In 1987, Danny Glover and Mel Gibson managed to combine the two genres in the first of the very funny, but equally violent, Lethal Weapon films.
But it wasn’t all violence and humour; there were other blockbusters out there. Well, actually, they were pretty much about violence and humour too, but in a less realistic setting. In 1980 and 1983, Star Wars was back on our screens, as the rebels continued to use The Force against the Dark Side. Integral to that fight was one Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford. And Ford had a very busy few years, bringing us the wonderful Indiana Jones in his first adventure, Raiders of the Lost Ark, in 1981. Indie actually had three adventures in the 1980s, before taking a twenty year break.
Last month, when talking about the Superman movies, I mentioned the stirring theme composed by John Williams. His filmography during the 1980s is impressive. Not only was he responsible for the music for both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, but he also scored Born on the Fourth of July, The Witches of Eastwick and everyone’s favourite alien film: ET the Extra Terrestrial.
Moving right to the end of the decade, 1989 was the year I started my job as an international project manager within the pharmaceutical industry. And from then on many of my films were seen on planes, rather than in a cinema. Added to which, some of my happiest travels times was spent working in Jordan. So my movie memory of this decade has to be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with the climactic scenes filmed in the temple at Petra.