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The Weekly Watch: Evolving of Age

Nick Angus

The notion of coming of age has proven to be a popular concept to study within film history. From its lack of existence during the early and mid-1900s to its profound prominence in today’s industry, there exists plenty of discussion to be had about its adaptation and revision. (There’s probably even more to be had about why we love it so much). 

For Week 3 of The Weekly Watch, let’s dive into the evolution of the coming of age genre, narrated through the inclusion of entertainment instalments from the 1980s onwards.  Whether the discussed characters have realised or rejected, conformed or clashed with the idea of adulthood, this journey through the decades of film and television is sure to be a timeless one.

Choice 1: The Breakfast Club (1985)

A criminal, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a brain. Image credit: Universal Pictures

A criminal, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a brain. Image credit: Universal Pictures

One of the most iconic films of the 1980s, The Breakfast Club emerges as a notable film to align with our theme of coming of age.

First appearing in the consciousness of cinemagoers during the central stage of the decade, The Breakfast Club proceeded to depict (and reinforce to audiences) the lingering fear of entering adulthood as a teenager. Plastered with the common high-school backdrop and a weekend detention to set the tone, the film finds power in its investigation into the single question: What does it mean to grow up?

In addition to five unique personalities within this intriguing narrative, there’s also plenty of comedy and boppin’ tunes to accompany the film. A favourite scene entwined both of these concepts to produce a montage of casual dancing in a deserted school library. Sounds strange? Good. Because there is no other film quite like it. 

The Breakfast Club is available to watch on DVD.

Choice 2: Round the Twist (1989-2001)

“Have you ever… ever felt like this?” Photo credit: Australian Children’s Television Foundation

“Have you ever… ever felt like this?” Photo credit: Australian Children’s Television Foundation

I’m not sure if there’s been a television series as strange as the Australian classic of Round the Twist. From dust monsters to mysterious Vikings, a Bird Boy to a bad hairdo, the repeated bewilderment experienced in response to the absurd content of the show was intriguing. But maybe that’s what has helped to make the show so iconic?

Shifting focus to our theme of the week, Round the Twist finds its strength in exploring the fundamental tightrope of the imaginary versus the reality, and how the coming of age notion ultimately represents a bridge between the two. Through the three main protagonists' (in this case three siblings) constant battle between immersing within their own fantasy whilst simultaneously living in reality, there continues to exist the underlying enigma of not what it means to grow up, but rather, when should be the right time to. 

It’s a wild journey through this lighthouse of adventure, but if you’re keen to let some magic enter your own reality, then it’s definitely worth a watch. You can even visit the famous lighthouse in picturesque Aireys Inlet if you have a road trip awaiting! 

The four seasons of Round the Twist are available to watch on DVD.

Choice 3: Hairspray (2007)

Zac Efron doing his best Frankie Muniz impression. Photo credit: New Line Cinema

Zac Efron doing his best Frankie Muniz impression. Photo credit: New Line Cinema

I’m just going to say, Hairspray (2007) stands out as the best musical film to date. And whilst I do wholeheartedly welcome debate or discussion on the particular point, “you can’t stop” the adoration I have for this film. With colourful and eccentric musical numbers, unique and lively personalities and a stimulating plot to drive the events of the film, it remains a personal favourite for the notable noughties’ decade.

Aligning with the weekly theme, the film (which finds influence from the 2002 Broadway musical and original 1988 film) depicts the complex clash between the adult and teen generations, in both social and cultural contexts. Most prominently, the film stamps its eminence in how it parallels the teens’ coming of age journey with Baltimore city’s transition into modernity and a new cultural era. It’s a powerful and important storyline, and the musical influence propels the narrative to exciting levels.

Even though the film may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the continual opportunities to sing and dance around the living room (simultaneously of course) is enough encouragement to give it a go. There’s also plenty of familiar celebrity faces to see as well…and yes, that’s them singing!
Hairspray is available to watch on DVD and Netflix.

Choice 4: Élite (2018-)

Image credit: Netflix

Image credit: Netflix

As a television series that combines the topics of high school drama, parental conflict and a ‘whodunnit?’ murder mystery, Élite materialises with a significant degree of power and prominence, leading to a captivating experience for its audience members.

It has always been a risky task to insert an abundance of varying storylines into one chronicle. Confusion or lack of engagement seem to be the common negative outcomes. Yet for this Spanish Netflix original, it triumphs through its careful dedication to each story, allowing for each separate narrative to be explored with time and purpose. Whether it be following love interests, combating jealousy with animosity or pursuing the path to familial stability, the individual storylines highlighted through the series are diverse and interesting, all finding a place under the coming of age umbrella.

Whilst it may take one or two episodes to fully immerse in the Élite experience, it’s worth the time and commitment. And even if the storyline doesn’t succeed in acquiring interest, just appreciate the entrancing cinematography, most prominently realised in the aerial and bird's-eye camera filming. 

The two seasons of Élite are now available to stream on Netflix.

Do you have an idea of a concept to be explored? OR an entertainment piece to be discussed? Don’t forget to leave a comment below!

Stay tuned for Week 4 of The Weekly Watch, arriving very soon…

Until then, enjoy the weekend and happy watching!

Swanston GazetteComment