09 July 2007


I first saw this movie when it came out, which was 1979, so I was 14 years old. It made a huge impression on me then--the amazing colors, the great music, and Twyla Tharp's choreography. It mostly took place in my city, New York, in Central Park and Washington Square Park, so I guess I felt a special identification for that reason as well.

When you're 14, you think everything's about you.

More than 25 years later, the movie holds up pretty well. You have to suspend a bit of disbelief to see 28-year-old Beverly D'Angelo as a 16 year old (Treat Williams also looks a lot older than he should be), but the color still looks great, the music is still wonderful, and the choreography is still invigorating. Moreover, even though many of the songs became so popular they are cliches now (especially "Aquarius" and "Let the Sun Shine In"), in the context of the film they remain profoundly moving.

I was crying at the end even though I knew what was going to happen, even though I'm sick of that song, even though I was internally criticizing the film's logic (the gravestone should have said Bukowski, not Berger, since Berger took Bukowski's place). And just as my 14-year-old self gazed wistfully at the joyful scenes of protest on the Washington Mall, I wished I'd been there then.

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