Nostalgia for nostalgia

Today, on a whim, for the first time in years I listened to Life in a Northern Town by The Dream Academy. A hit song in 1985, it resonates powerfully now.

The song itself is nostalgic for the early 1960s. So it is looking back through the flattering golden aura of nostalgia.

Yet to listen to this song now in 2020 is to do the same. I can only hear it through the flattering golden aura of nostalgia for the 1980s.

This double nostalgia — nostalgia for nostalgia — seems to run through our relationship to popular culture. Some of my own personal favorites are Singing in the Rain (I feel nostalgia watching a 1952 nostalgic fantasy of the late 1920s), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (I feel nostalgia watching a 1969 nostalgic fantasy of 1899) and Mary Poppins (I feel nostalgia watching a 1964 nostalgic fantasy of 1910).

It might be interesting to build a film series out of this theme. What would you put on the list?

One thought on “Nostalgia for nostalgia”

  1. _Back to the Future_ (nostalgia for a 1985 nostalgia for 1955)

    _2001: A Space Odyssey_ (nostalgia for 1968 vision of a future that’s now almost 20 years behind us)

    _Young Frankenstein_ (nostalgia for 1974’s humorous tribute to a 1931 cinematic vision of an 1818 novel set in the 1700s)

    _Raiders of the Lost Ark_ (nostalgia for 1981’s nostalgia for 1930s and ’40s adventure serials)

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