Staying Alive

13-Jan-07 5:44 PM by
Filed under Reviews; 1 comment.

I'd never seen Saturday Night Fever before this, the 30th anniversary of the film. But when a friend 52 years my senior was stunned at this gaping hole in my cinematic education, she insisted on filling it for me and one of my peers.

I now see how vital it is to have knowledge of this film; spoofs such as Airplane! suddenly make so much more sense! Regardless of our respective ages, we laughed at the symbols of the Seventies: the clothing, the language, the family dynamics.

At least at first. What I thought was a film about a disco competition proved to have far more depth than Bring It On or Drumline. I'm not familiar enough with Fever's era for the film to strike a nostalgic chord, but I can imagine how it might capture the aspirations of that generation, the changing gender roles, and religious obligations. That latter aspect was of the most interest to me; though I would've liked to see more of Father Frank Jr., they effectively summarized his position and decisions in the world and his family. His older brother's story was, again, more nuanced than I expected; it reminded me mostly of Catcher in the Rye. The choreography was a work of art as well. But I think I'll pass on the sequel, Staying Alive.

In a tale right out of Street Smart, Fever is based on a magazine article that was revealed 20 years later to have been fabricated. Its author, a Brit, found the American disco scene incomprehensible, and so created his own story. I wonder what value or meaning the ensuing movie adaptation has for an international audience? Does it too baffle them?

One Response to “Staying Alive”

  1. am adds:

    This is one of my favorite films. It always makes me wistful. I was only 10 when it came out but my Grandma unwittingly (I think) took all us grandkids to the PG-13 version in a double feature with Grease. I'm glad you got to see it.

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