1982, an exceptional year in the history of cinema


Exactly four decades ago, the cinema enjoyed one of the best years of a history that at that time was about to complete its first century of existence (the centenary was celebrated in 1995). Much has been written in recent days about the 40th anniversary of the premieres of “ET the alien”by Steven Spielberg (first at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and on June 11 in theaters in the United States); “Bladerunner”by Ridley Scott (June 25) and “The Mystery of Another World” (“The Thing”) by John Carpenter (also June 25), but if you go a little further and analyze the list of 1982 releases, you will find an astonishing quantity, quality and variety.

student babydolls
“Student Pranks”

The cinema of the 1980s has never enjoyed much critical prestige. After the glorious 1970s, with films like the first two installments of “The Godfather”, “Chinatown”, “Jaws”, “Carrie”, “Novecento”, “Taxi Driver”, “Annie Hall: Two strange lovers” and “Manhattan”, “Star Wars”, “The Sniper”, “Alien, the eighth passenger”, “A Clockwork Orange” and “Apocalypse Now”, the ’80s were minimized as something rather superfluous ephemeral and conservative. However, just by reviewing some of the titles released in 1982, that statement that is often repeated as if it were an unquestionable truth could shake.

Within the fantastic and horror cinema they premiered in that season from “poltergeists”by Tobe Hopper, written and produced by the rising Spielberg, to “The Mark of the Panther”by Paul Schrader, with Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell, passing through “The Enchanted Crystal”by Frank Oz and Jim Henson. A master of horror like George A. Romero teamed up with Stephen King for the five shorts that made up “Creepshow: Feast of Terror”while black humor was also present in “Eating Raul”, by and with Paul Bartel; and Carl Reiner directed Steve Martin in an homage to film noir as “Dead customer does not pay”.

The riddle of another world
“The Riddle of Another World”

But 1982 was also the year of youth comedies: from the picaresque “Porky’s”by Bob Clark; until “Student Pranks” (“Fast Times at Ridgemont Hight”), by Amy Heckerling and screenplay by Cameron Crowe, with then very young Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, Nicolas Cage, Judge Reinhold, Anthony Edwards and Phoebe Cates. Heckerling was one of the many directors who at that time began to venture mainly into comedies with Susan Seidelman, Martha Coolidge, Penny Marshall, Penelope Spheeris and Lizzie Borden.

The risk and sexual ease applied to films with popular ambitions generated immense successes such as “Toosie”Sydney Pollack, with Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange; Y “Victor/Victory”, by Blake Edwards, with Julie Andrews. On the side of humor in its most diverse variants, they also had their impact from “His favorite toy”, by Richard Donner, with Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason and Ned Beatty; even the most tragic “The World According to Garp”by George Roy Hill, with Robin Williams and based on the novel by John Irving.

Although quite misunderstood at the time, Martin Scorsese presented “The King of Comedy”Martin Scorsese’s, with Robert DeNiro and Jerry Lewis; Barry Levinson did the same with “Diner: Bachelor Pranks”, with Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon and Daniel Stern; while Norman Jewison released “Intimate friends”with Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn.

One of the 1982 films most acclaimed by generations of moviegoers is “48 hours”, a film by Walter Hill with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy that became the paradigm of a subgenre called buddy-movie, with two opposite protagonists who end up joining forces to overcome multiple dangers. And -although with much less critical support- action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Conan the barbarian”) and Sylvester Stallone twice: both with “Rambo” as with “Rocky III”.

In 1982 Clint Eastwood had two releases in his double role as director and protagonist (“firefox” Y “The Lone Warrior”), like the German Wim Wenders (“Investigation in Chinatown” Y “The state of things”), while the ever-prolific Woody Allen presented “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy,” which he co-fronted with Mia Farrow.

That year he also gave away a great romantic success (“Challenge to fate”, by Taylor Hackford; with Richard Gere and Debra Winger), an anti-establishment musical (“Pink Floyd: The Wall”, by Alan Parker); several biopics (“French”, with an extraordinary Jessica Lange as actress Frances Farmer; Y “Gandhi”, a film by Richard Attenborough with Ben Kingsley as the mythical pacifist leader who would end up winning no fewer than eight Oscars a few months later); and political cinema“Missing: Missing”, by Costa-Gavras, with Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek and the Chilean dictatorship in the background). Among the adult dramas, it is also worth highlighting “Sophie’s Decision”by Alan J. Pakula, with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline; “The year we live in danger”, by Peter Weir, with Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver; Y “It will be justice”by Sidney Lumet, with Paul Newman and Charlotte Rampling.

And what happened in 1982 outside of Hollywood? Ingmar Bergman premiered his masterpiece Fanny and Alexander; also came to theaters “Fitzcarraldo”, Werner Herzog’s epic with his fetish actor and “intimate enemy” Klaus Kinski and Claudia Cardinale; as well as the last two films by also German Rainer Werner Fassbinder (“Lawsuit” Y “Veronika Voss’s Wish”), who would die at just 37 years old in June of that year.

Also in 1982 it was the turn of a young Pedro Almodóvar with his second feature film, “Labyrinth of passions”with Argentinean Cecilia Roth, Imanol Arias and newcomer Antonio Banderas; “Night of Varennes”by Ettore Scola, with Jean-Louis Barrault, Marcello Mastroianni, Hanna Schygulla and Harvey Keitel; “The Painter’s Contract”by Welshman Peter Greenaway; “Passion”by Jean-Luc Godard, with Isabelle Huppert, Hanna Schygulla and Michel Piccoli, the Turkish film Yol: The Wayby Serif Gören and Yilmaz Güney, which won no less than the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival; “Beehive”by Mario Camus; “The night of San Lorenzo”, by the brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani; Y “Start over”by Jose Luis García.

“Last Days of the Victim”


And in the convulsive Argentine cinema at that time, “Nobody’s Lady”the second feature film by María Luisa Bemberg; “sweet silver”, by Fernando Ayala, with Federico Luppi and Julio De Grazia, a duo who would also star in a masterpiece such as “Last Days of the Victim”, by Adolfo Aristarain, along with Soledad Silveyra, Ulises Dumont. Even in dark moments such as those at the end of the military dictatorship, national production already showed strong signs of resistance with a view to its subsequent resurgence in the democratic spring.

“Blade Runner”

But the true artistic dimension of some films is not always discovered immediately. Many contemporaries to the release of “The Mystery of Another World” they disdained or even despised it. However, John Carpenter’s feature film with Kurt Russell grew over time until it became a cult film. A few days ago, it was re-released in more than 500 theaters in the United States and quickly climbed to the Top 10 of the North American box office, above several current tanks. Sometimes it takes time, but time takes care of putting things in their place and that also happens with the well-deserved claims of cinephiles.

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