American Graffiti Film Review
By: Ashley Shepherd
The film American Graffiti, directed by George Lucas, is about a group of teenagers and how they spend their last night of summer before leaving for college. The ongoing theme in this film is “we can’t stay 17 forever”. A few of the characters in the film are reluctant to be going into the real world when the sun rises in the morning while some are ready to get out of their forsaken small town. During this one night of mischief, a few of the teens change their mind about leaving versus staying in their home town for a little while longer. This one important night changed many of the teens lifelong decisions. Experience car racing, teen lingo, drinking bad liquor, and young love all over again in this coming of age film.
A highlight and most memorable aspect of this film is the music chosen. The soundtrack to this film reminisces on the popular hits of rock n roll ten years ago. The entire soundtrack is mixed in with bits of a radio host talking in-between songs. This makes it feel like the viewer is listening to the same radio station as the teens in the film. Using this radio technique also emphasizes the fact that cars are a huge deal, but yet as long as you have a working radio you can still have a good night out on the town.
American Graffiti follows the theme that life isn’t about the destination, it is about the journey. Like The Rain People and Easy Rider, there was no real plot to the film, which emphasizes that there is no beginning and end in life. Life is a continuous journey.
The end of the film ends with Kurt, who was reluctant to go off to college, leaving for college via plane. The last night of summer and how he spent it made him realize that he was ready for a different world. After this ending scene, each of the character’s photos are shown on the screen with a little paragraph talking about where they went with their lives and what jobs they went in to. Miller ends up dead, Terry missing, Steve becomes a real estate agent, and Kurt becomes a writer. Seeing their destiny’s written up on the screen right after getting attached to the characters leaves you feeling a little saddened. All of the teenagers grew up and got jobs like every other adult in America, unless they died or went missing. While watching the movie and realizing how unsure most of the characters were about the future, it made it seem like they were going to do something great with their lives. None of them wanted to be boring old stiffs when they grew up.
Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Suzanne Somers, Cindy Williams, Wolfman Jack and Mackenzie Phillips all make appearances in this film. All do a substantial job of playing high school students and depicting life right before college.
This coming of age film followed a group of teenagers before going to college. American Graffiti focuses on the journey of discovering yourself and not on the destination. This film also relies on the fun and hip soundtrack to really hide the fact that this film is very low budget. The music keeps your head bobbing up and down. It makes you relive those high school days and feel like a teenager again and having the wind hit your face while jamming with your friends.