The incoming freshman run away from the seniors.
Dazed and Confused is 1976 youth culture in a nut shell. The film journeys to the last day of school in a typical American high school and introduces a slew of characters with one common goal: to party. At first it might give the impression of a stereotypical youth rebellion plot, but don’t let its loose and playful attitude fool you. This film offers the cultural insight of a history book and an anthropological study all wrapped up in one entertaining film.
The freshman girls are rounded up, forced to suck on baby pacifiers, and put in the back of a pickup truck.
The film culminates characters from every walk of high school: the jock, the stoner, the nerd, and even the graduate that can’t seem to move past his glory days. The plot swiftly hops from character to character, taking on a less traditional film structure that reflects the largely carefree and disorganized attitude of the teens. Randy “Pink” Floyd (Jason London) is the star football player that is utterly dismayed by the coach’s request that all players sign an anti drug and alcohol oath. The flip side of the plot shows the upcoming freshman class facing heavy (yet lightheartedly portrayed) hazing, exemplified by Mitch (Wiley Wiggins), the awkward younger brother of a popular, beautiful upperclassman girl. Given that the characters are all fifteen to eighteen years old, the scale of their internal problems is smaller, but that doesn’t stop the audience from connecting.
Fred chases after Mitch.
As much as the social barriers are exposed between social groups, they also break down to reveal the similar, basic problems of every teen in that era. All characters have a whim of uncertainty about them. They each are concerned with romance, fitting in, and simply getting by. Don Dawson (Sasha Jenson) sums up the feelings of all in his most memorable quote: “Well, all I'm saying is that I want to look back and say that I did the best I could while I was stuck in this place.” They all want a future, but for the time being, what they need is each others’ company and a good time. The beauty of the film is the camaraderie that is established at one party when all the characters come together, showing that they aren’t so different after all.
Fred and his friends wait for Mitch at his youth league baseball game.
There is true detail in every aspect of the film to create the best depiction of 1976. Whether it’s the soundtrack including Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, or the smoke filled rooms, the viewer experience is very much like a time capsule with no gaps in consistency. Oftentimes the camera would zoom to a small set detail before zooming out to continue with the plot. This effect, like a quick zoom in of graffiti on the school walls, is highly effective to wordlessly showcase the culture and further the themes. This type of detail and perfect portrayal is what gave Dazed and Confused such a cult following. It’s a must see for whatever you’re looking for – a blast from the past, an emotional ride, or a good laugh.
Partying continues into the night.
Stoner Ron Slater always has on his black high top chucks.
Always popular with high school kids, chucks are seen throughout the film, with a lot of the characters wearing them in various scenes. Shots of Ron Slater always end up focusing on his black high top chucks, and there is a scene at the beginning of the film where Hirschfeld, one of the new incoming freshmen, is writing on his blue low cut while waiting for class to be dismissed.
A bored Hirschfeld draws on his blue low cut while waiting for school to end for the summer.
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