The Role of Nostalgia in Coming-of-Age Movies

coming of age title

Coming-of-Age movies may never go out of style. Typically such movies revolve around young characters who are not yet adults, yet certainly not children anymore. Such movies can exist in virtually any time period, because there are certain truths to growing up that almost everybody remembers. Anybody watching such a movie may be profoundly struck by how similar it was to their own experience growing up.

Stand by meThere were several classic Coming- of-Age films made in the 1980s. One was Stand By Me, based on the novella by Stephen King. It was set in Maine in the 1950s and revolved around four boys, all 12 or 13 years old, on a quest to see their first dead body. The film deals with friendship, honesty, family, and bullying —  all in a touching and interesting way. Anybody watching it is sure to be reminded of their own poignant friendships while growing up and how those friendships shaped them as a person.

the outsidersThe Outsiders is a great film based upon the book by S.E. Hinton. In this movie, Ponyboy, a 14-year-old kid from the wrong side of town, deals with being alone with his brothers after his parents are killed in a car accident. He finds out that his rivals from the rich side of town do not have it nearly as good as he thinks. He also has to cope with losing a good friend under heartbreaking circumstances. Some of the dialogue may feel a little cheesy, but almost anybody should be emotionally moved after seeing the events Ponybody is forced to deal with.

the breakfast clubAnother great film is The Breakfast Club, which takes place on a Saturday in high school detention. Five students, who initially think that they are vastly different, come to realize that they have more in common than they ever thought possible. This is a story that deals with expectations, fronts, and stereotypes. The plot should resonate with any audience member who can recall just how miserable high school could be at times.

Super 8A more modern Coming-of-Age tale is the recent Super 8, set in a small US town in 1979. The story involves some supernatural elements but is based around the efforts of a group of middle schoolers attempting to shoot a film on their own.  This movie has themes about friends and loyalty and even has a bit of romance for one protagonist. The main character learns how much his dad cares for him, only after they both have to deal with the death of his mother. He realizes that part of growing up is knowing how important your family really is.

adventurelandIn Adventureland, released in 2009 and set in 1987, the only job a young man can get is at a rundown amusement park. Here he learns a bit more about how the real world works, while also experiencing his first real love.  Anybody who ever had the rite of passage of a job they hated while growing up should appreciate this film.

my girlComing-of-Age movies, if done well, tend to resonate with audiences. That time in our life when we were really learning what it was like to be an adult was an experience quite unlike any other. It was a time filled with hope, discovery, fear and excitement. All these emotions can make for riveting storytelling. In some cases, seeing something on screen makes us vividly remember our own experiences. We can again see a crucial rite of passage like getting a car, a job, or having that first kiss.

We can never again experience the triumphs and failures of growing up. A movie, however, is the closest we can come to reliving this experience. This is why good cinema is so important. It can partially recreate those moments for us, and we can see part of ourselves in the onscreen performance. Reliving your youth might seem possible for a while, while you watch characters go through all the highs and lows of adolescence. And that may be reason enough to sit down and watch a good Coming-of-Age film that will take you on a stroll down Memory Lane.

For more on coming of age films please check the fowling articles :

Coming of age movies – definition

Top 5 Coming of Age Films for Girls

Coming of age movies – boy`s or girl`s thing

The Psychology of the Coming of Age Movie
The Benefits of Watching Coming of Age Films with Children Coming Of Age Movies: Growing Up On Screen

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