Peter Krämer: American Graffiti or “Where were you in ‘62?”

16. duben 2018, 13:15 – 14:45


Přednáška se uskuteční v angličtině - Peter Krämer - George Lucas - American Graffiti - rock'n'roll, cars & teenagers.

Never in its history has Hollywood's audience been so clearly dominated by people in their teens and early twenties as it was in the early 1970s. The most spectacular exception to this rule is American Graffiti, a low-budget film, set in 1962, about a group of teenagers (as well as one young man in his early 20s), co-written and directed by George Lucas, who was 29 years old when Graffiti was released in August 1973. This film became one of the biggest American box office hits not only of the early 1970s, but of all time.

In this talk, I first outline how George Lucas came to make this film which was based on his own experiences growing up in Modesto, California. I show that American Graffiti was both building on, and reacting against, his earlier films, in particular his first feature THX 1138 (1971), and was also informed by various developments at the US box office in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Secondly, I examine the developmental arcs of the four main male characters, who in the course of the story come to make decisions about their future; each of them does so through the interaction with a specific female character. I also explore how the characters are infused with a sense of change (in their own lives as well as in their culture), and how the film places their development in the context of broader changes in American society.

Thirdly, I discuss the film's marketing in the US, with particular reference to its tagline "Where were you in '62?". I focus on the targeting of older baby-boomers (who were teenagers in 1962) and of younger baby-boomers (many of whom were teenagers in 1973).

Finally, I show that the film's extremely positive critical reception discussed it as a portrait both of specific generational experiences, grounded in the transformation of American society across the 1950s and 1960s, and of the "universal" experience of growing up.

Peter Krämer is a Senior Fellow in the School of Art, Media and American Studies at the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) as well as a regular guest lecturer at Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic) and at the University of Television and Film Munich (Germany).


Katedra divadelních a filmových studií FF UP


Umělecké centrum UP, Univerzitní 3, Filmový sál