Many great things happened in the year of 1993, the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed ‘Star II’, reducing nuclear warheads by 3,500 units each, whilst also, it saw the release of Richard Linklater’s cult classic, Dazed and Confused. Both, made the world a better place, but the latter launched the acting careers’ of numerous talents that went onto grace the silver screen for a whole generation to come. The film is set on the last day of high school in Austin, Texas, in 1976, the plot revolving around the various characters from Freshman to Seniors in their pursuit of an unforgettable closing party after an arduous school year. The film hits all the right notes, which everyone needs to experience more than once and not to mention it also has an amazing soundtrack to boot.
Director & writer, Richard Linklater’s masterpiece clearly relied heavily on actor improvisation from the script dialogue in order to get the best natural performances from each character. Obviously, this director/actor interaction is paramount in all his films, unlike, let’s say with “Alfred Hithcock”, whom was often said to treat his actors like one dimensional objects. ‘Dazed and Confused’ has so many unforgettable performances from actors such as Jason London, to first time actor, Matthew McConaughey’s performance as “Wooderson”, to Ben Affleck, even Renee Zellweger is in there, Adam Goldberg and plus model, Milla Jovovich, all starring alongside each other in this fun coming of age comedy. We’ve had a choosey old time in selecting our two favorite characters out of the whole heap, but in the end, it was quite simple with the two breakout performances by Rory Cochrane as “Slater”, the perfect stereotypical “pot-head” and Parker Posey as “Darla Marks”, the “head of hazing” and all around major “evil b*tch” from the senior class.
Yes, this film truly has it all, transcending time and generations, encapsulating even our own high school party memories of the late 1990s, in just 102minutes of screen time, but while it’s set in 1976. Complete with memorable dialogue and one liners like, “Party at the moon tower!” “Shotgun!”. “You got any Visine?”.
Nostalgic memories are now coming back to us, visions of driving around the suburbs at night, looking for what to do on the weekends. We at times had our very own High School parties outside in the woods too, at a place we called “The _ _ _” (not moon tower) and all sorts of people would turn out for those suburban wilderness mash-ups, to get drunk, get high and there’d even be the occasional fight, just like in the movie.
It does sound a lot like the final third of the film, so it is safe to say that Richard Linklater has struck a major chord here and we weren’t even born back in 1976, where he clearly got all his inspiration from. So, we suppose that the high school party dynamics at the end of the school year in America, has not changed much throughout the ages, but I bet you that today’s “millenials” that grew up with smart phone’s and the Internet stitched onto their fingertips, surely did not share this same type of “vibe” as we did. But, perhaps they did?
Anyway, back to our favorite characters in “Slater”, the dope smoking and super mellow philosopher, who shares his monologue on our very own human existence here. Way-way before its time. Thinking back, it’s actually groundbreaking from script to screen, sounding like an excerpt from ‘Ancient Aliens’. Of course, “Slater” also has the unforgettable line, “Hey, you cool man?”, the apparent code for asking if somebody smokes weed or not. Plus, also to this wonderful dialogue exchange with “O’Bannion”, the flunked out school bully with a wooden paddle, played expertly by Ben Affleck:
Hey Slater, you fuckin’ hippie, give me drugs, man.
Go get some from your mother, man.
We just bagged your mother.
Okay, fuck you dickhead.
Then in another scene, “Slater” talks to the main protagonist of the film, freshman “Mitch” at his first ever high school party, sort of taking him under his wing for just a moment, whilst up at the top of the moon tower, looking down at all the metal beams, below:
This place used to be off limits, man, ’cause some drunk freshman fell off. He went right down the middle, smacking his head on every beam, man. I hear it doesn’t hurt after the first couple though. Autopsy said he had one beer, how many did you have?
You’re dead, man, you’re so dead. Look at the blood stains right there.
Clearly this is enough classic material for you to be encouraged to go back and watch the film again or even for the first time. We know that every time that it airs on TV, we are on it and we find it almost sacrilegious to ever think about, even changing the channel. Which brings us to “Darla Marks”, the super-bitchy domineering brunette bad girl of the Senior class, who rules as the instigator in demeaning the new freshman class, in traditional American hazing activities of welcoming 8th graders to becoming 9th graders’ in High School.
However, not without being driven through a car-wash in the back of a pick-up truck, after being desecrated with egg yolks and having flour poured all over them. “Alright you little freshman bitches. Air raid! (they lay down on the concrete) Get up you little lazy bitches, get up! Air raid!” she yells.
Towards the end of the film, she tests out her authority again whilst stumbling around the “moon tower” party drunk, after one too many beer bong’s, spotting one of the freshman’s from the day’s earlier hazing. Thus, she tries to once again flex her authority and make the freshman girl lay down on the ground. Yelling at her, “Air raid!”
Only to be shutdown by her male classmate who protects the freshman girl, signifying the film coming full circle in the integration and inclusion of freshman into the acceptance of the high school party lifestyle. Another truly touching and defining moment, not only of the film, but of teenage years as well, because all any youngster wants is to finally be accepted onto the same social plane as their peers. High school truly is a funny experience, which makes the film so poignant to those that see their high school experience within this classic film.
In conclusion, we’d have to class ‘Dazed and Confused’ as a trailblazer of a film, due to all the actors that got their start in this cult motion picture. Some of whom became more successful in Hollywood than others, but the real magic of the movie is the formulation of everything together in unison, as a whole. It’s now forever immortalized on celluloid for our enjoyment and of course, it’s also available on DVD, on demand and probably online. You can also catch a bunch of fun outtakes and watch unseen material on Youtube. So, why not pay ‘Dazed and Confused” another visit and remember to “watch it with a bud”.
<Story by The Narrator>
Catch a unique look into the life of “Darla” in character, here.
Catch “Slater’s” off screen interview in character, here.
Featured Photo Credit Pixbay – Cheifyc