Why I Chose It: American Graffiti is one of my parents favourite movies and I had never watched it.
The one thing that makes this movie so interesting to me is the culture it portrays. In the sixties it was a real thing to go cruising on the strip with your car. People literally spent their nights driving around listening to music. This was the era when drive-in restaurants, or “car-hops,” were huge – waitresses on roller skates brought your food to your car! The movie suggests moments such as having conversations between two cars as they drive next to one another, or actually inviting a stranger into your car to cruise with you for a while. The idea that people actually did this is a little crazy. Yet it is really interesting to watch this environment and the types of interactions that can be created between people in amongst this constantly moving, fluid setting.
What really creates the atmosphere of the movie was the combination of cars and music. There are some amazing shots in this movie that feature many different classic cars. But my favourite part of the atmosphere by far was the music. Hits from the 1950-60’s are playing throughout the entire movie, often as though the characters themselves are listening to the radio the entire time. There are so many good hits that I know, and yet so many I didn’t know, that made this movie fun just to listen to. I kept finding myself dancing along! But more than that, the music provides an extra commentary on the situations the characters are going through, and really helps to focus the mood in a very intelligent manner.
Finally, the characters. With American Graffiti there isn’t a large plot story to follow. Steve and Curt have just graduated; this is their last night on the strip before they leave for college. Yet despite there not being a complex story, I was very invested in each of the characters. Every character is complex, and I enjoyed watching their stories entwine with one another. For example, Steve can’t wait to get out of this dead-end town, but he’s leaving behind his girlfriend Laurie. Her brother Curt is also leaving, but Curt isn’t sure if he wants to go. Each of the characters has an interesting conflict, and I really enjoyed that the story was about the people. More than anything, this movie is made by the characters and the way they interact with one another on this adventure-filled night.
I definitely enjoyed this movie, and can’t wait to watch it again. I think this movie feels the same as The Breakfast Club or other 80’s movies, it’s just set in a different time period. I would suggest American Graffiti for anyone who loves oldies music, classic cars, or the culture of the 1960’s.
Rating: 4 / 5