Jul 5, 2011

5 Iconic Film Characters from the 80s

The 1980s was an exciting time for Hollywood Cinema. A time for American Blockbusters and their Sequels, for Rom-Coms, for Gangster Films, Action Heroes, Epic Adventures and Horror Stories. Top Gun, Die Hard, Back to the Future, E.T., Ghostbusters -these are films that everybody knows, even those not yet born or too young to remember.

The 80s marked the dynamic comeback of Hollywood cinema and of the Hollywood star system. If you are looking for the film characters that best capture the 1980s, or you have been invited to an 80s movies fancy dress party, then just take a look at the list of classics below.

You will find that the 80s heroes were not unproblematic but instead, reflected a crisis of the American dream and a system below which lurked divorce, alienation, abuse of minorities and psychological disorders:

John Rambo/ Rambo Series (1982, 1985, 1988): Sylvester Stallone

John Rambo

Following the tremendous success of Rocky, Stallone became synonymous with action movies and a symbol of masculinity. The marine veteran from Vietnam, John Rambo, or as his fans named him ‘The War Machine’, became a trademark role for Sylvester Stallone. Equipped with a hypermuscular body and a massive machine gun, the hero who was once enlisted in the Special Forces of the US Army, and now suffering from post-tramautic stress, is abused by the very system that trained him. This sets him off onto a one-man guerrilla war for justice and retribution, involving practically killing every policeman along the way.

Tony Montana /Scarface (1983): Al Pacino

Scarface, a film that became iconic of the gangster genre, managed to appeal to mass culture while also being critically acclaimed for its aesthetic merit. Loosely based on the Al Capone story it depicts an iconic yet paradoxical hero. Tony Montana: an ex-convict, a criminal, a gangster, a cocaine addict who strives for the American dream, for wealth, success and individualism. Tony rises to the top of Miami’s crime chain, in a film inundated with blood, gore, drugs and incest.

E.T./ E.T the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. became an iconic 80s hero despite the fact that he lacked guns, muscles and a military past. Elliot, a somewhat lonely and reserved boy living with his mum, sister and brother, one day comes across an aging alien, left behind by his spacecraft. The film that exceeded the earnings of Star Wars, is not simply a kids story about the return of E.T. to his planet. It is instead based on the fantastic friend that Steven Spielberg himself had made up to help him cope with the divorce of his own parents. It is not a coincidence that Elliot’s parents are divorced and that Elliot learns to become more confident in himself and more communicative through his friendship with this older male. E.T although from another world, cares for Elliott and understands him, showing that love can exist outside the family.

Daniel LaRusso/ Karate Kid (1984, 1986, 1989): Ralph Macchio

Daniel LaRusso

Karate Kid is the Rocky for teenagers. It is the story of a New Jersey kid without a dad, who has just moved to a California that is anything but welcoming. Harassed and bullied at school, feeling weak and unwanted, Daniel befriends a Japanese janitor who teaches him how to stand up for himself and how to use karate and eastern philosophy to defend himself from his bullies without resort to violence. Considered to be one of the most entertaining films of all times, it is also a film about the friendship and mutual respect that develops between a man without a son and a boy without a father.

Johnny Castle/ Dirty Dancing (1987): Patrick Swayze

The musical that surprised the box-office and remained in history, not simply for its successful soundtrack (Time of my Life), choreography and performances, but also for its meaningful storyline, about the coming of adulthood, love and responsibility. Baby Houseman, an innocent teenager meets the handsome but working class dance instructor Johnny Castle who she falls in love with. However, Baby’s father, the wealthy and respected Dr. Houseman, opposes the match, considering Johnny a low life. Johnny helps Baby find her voice, identity, independence and understand how the world works in this record braking film that marked a star-making performance from Swayze.

This article was written by Joker’s Masquerade, leading providers of fancy dress costumes in the UK

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