With my focus on nostalgia this month, I've been extra sensitive to its presence around me. Automatically, we relate the word to personal memories from our past that we look back on longingly. It's more often than not a memory of fondness or something dear to us. But I'm starting to become increasingly aware at how vulnerable we can be to the allure of nostalgia.
Nostalgia is something that works as an excellent marketing scheme.
It's a brilliant way to win people over. To take advantage of their sentimental attachment. To go far back into their childhood references and bring it back. It's not necessarily a bad thing - personally I enjoy it. But I think it's good to be aware of it.
Perhaps, you've noticed it too?
The last three movies I went to see in the cinema were Beauty and the Beast, La La Land, and Finding Dory. Beauty and the Beast was one of my favourite Disney movies (after Bambi) as a little girl, and I imagine the same goes for many other girls within at least ten years around my age. That's a huge audience of little girls who are now grown up but would love to return to their childhood for at least the span of a two hour long movie. So why not recreate the film?
The same goes for Finding Dory. Finding Nemo was a fantastic film that Pixar gifted us with in 2003 and the suspense surrounding this exciting sequel was enough to make it an outstanding box office hit. But this is nothing new. Disney has been reviving their films and developing sequels for a long time now. And keep in mind Disney has been around since the 20s.
La La Land has aroused multiple opinions, but undeniably is a film having many nostalgic elements within it, despite taking place . For one, it pays homages in the singing, dancing, and cinematography of films from the 50s. It's also a very old-fashioned romance, with a sort of timidness that would come with your first kiss. Diving deeper into the story, both characters have nostalgic dreams, one stemming from acting memories from her childhood and the other a passion for traditional jazz music. I don't want to give too much away for this film, but throughout it you can find many little references if you keep an eye open.
If you've seen La La Land, click here a very spoiler-decorated but interesting article on the film for further reading.
But of course, these are only a few examples I've encountered. You can probably think of plenty more... bringing both Star Wars and the Smurfs back, and creating movies about our favourite old constructive kids' toy, Lego. And I would be lying if I said my inner tomboy child wasn't the slightest bit excited for the new Power Rangers movie.
Perhaps, where the use of nostalgia in film proves to be unsuccessful is when they resurrect movies that have settled in their graves. Very often, with TV series as well, bringing them back for a sequel or continuation, after an appropriate conclusion can be damaging. An example that I can think of off the top of my head is the 2008 revamp 90210 series. Nothing can ever replace Dylan Mckay.
Also, think of how many horrific sequels there are out there.
Hollywood and the silver screen aren't the only ones using our glutton for nostalgia to their advantage. Fashion, for another example, is on a constant cycle. I've spoken about the influence of 70s fashion in today's mode, but trends from different decades come in accents as the seasons go on. Sometimes it's a the boxed, boy-styles of the 20s, or the mod-pop shapes and colours of the 60s, or grunge flannels of the 90s. More than once I've heard my mom reflect fondly on current trends that have been recycled, reminiscent of her youth.
And then of course, for myself what may be the most indulgent of all, is the music. Not a day goes by where I don't listen to a song from before my time. Great music is timeless. However, I wasn't alive when these songs came out, so fairly I cannot claim them as nostalgic. But they were for my dad, who introduced classic rock to me from a young age, so maybe that's where my nostalgia lies. But even artists releasing albums today often look to their musical predecessors as influence. Sometimes they'll even be so devout as to create their own cover of a classic song.