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‘Flashdance: 40th Anniversary Edition’ (4K UHD review)

Paramount Pictures


Nostalgia is an incredibly lucrative business.

And while the 1990s have been gaining momentum in that area, the 1980s still reign supreme thanks to kids who grew up during the decade having become the adults responsible for everything from the immense success of Netflix’ 80s simulator Stranger Things to the very visible presence of iconic 80s pop culture printed onto T-shirts everywhere.

Perhaps the ultimate monument to 80s fashion, music, and general visual style, Flashdance, now celebrates its 40th anniversary.

And, like so many other 80s classics, is now being revisited by audiences old and new, even though the film’s status as the epitome of style over substance was cemented long ago.

Critically panned at the time, the appeal of Flashdance was never in being a narrative masterpiece, but rather how it became one of the first films to truly define so many aspects of 80s youth culture that people still pinpoint as the essence of that unmistakable 80s style to this day.

Not only was this film the epicenter of 80s fashion staples such as cropped sweatshirts and leg warmers, the film also boasts enough montages to rival even Rocky IV, which made the dance numbers accompanied by the likes of “Flashdance… What A Feeling” perfect for MTV, and it was through this undeniable pop culture appeal that Flashdance became the third highest grossing film of 1983.

Even director Adrian Lyne admits to not being particularly fond of the script and making a conscious effort to make the dance numbers stand out, and it certainly shows, as the rest of the film surrounding the dance numbers is incredibly generic and forgettable.

And like many other 80s movies, the attitudes and humor has not aged well.

The central romance featuring a mature boss getting it on with an employee half his age would not fare well today, not to mention the absurd degree of improbability that main character Alex, at the tender age of 18, is supposed to be a worker with such a specialized skill as welding in a unionized industry at a factory in a town that was under immense economic strain during this point in time.

The social commentary of Alex and her friends struggling to make it in a rundown town is also lacking in sincerity and gravitas, resulting in it being more exploitative than engaging – even if seeing Fear’s Lee Ving as a sleazoid strip club owner is something of a treat.

Naturally, Flashdance was far from the only blockbuster dance movie of the decade, and many view Flashdance, Footloose and Dirty Dancing as the holy trinity of dance flicks with excellent soundtracks.

In terms of how these three films compare, Flashdance had the most hyper-stylized visuals, Footloose had Kevin Bacon’s charisma, and Dirty Dancing had the stronger story and the better social commentary.

As such, this trinity of films have all remained icons of both the dance movie genre in particular and the 80s in general, and while it may not be high art, it is nonetheless films such as Flashdance that define pop culture and serves as a gateway to reconnect with days gone by.

Extras include three featurettes including Director Adrian Lyne discussing the film, and the trailer.

Flashdance may not be a cinematic milestone, but it is a pop culture monolith that cannot be dismissed if one is trying to summarize the most influential films of the 80s, and as such, it is one of the ultimate testaments to the decade and worth a revisit if you are feeling nostalgic.

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