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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
The Big Chill
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment 1983 DVD/VHS Feature Film
The baby boom generation, born between 1946 and 1965, consists of 75 million individuals. Because of this group's unprecedented size, they have shaped and influenced the substance and direction of American culture over the past three decades.
During the 50's, the society turned its attention to child care and family matters. During the 60's, the United States experienced the turmoil as the baby boomers went through a period of adolescent rebellion. During the 70's, the "Me Generation" established self-gratification as an acceptable standard. In 1979, the median age in America crossed over 30. During the 80's, the cult of the adult emerged as the society's institutions shifted once again to accommodate this generation.
Short story writer and novelist Ann Beattie has been the most notable chronicler of the baby boomers to date. Her efforts are now matched by a major contribution from film director Lawrence Kasdan. The Big Chill is the best look yet into this colorful and complex generation. It is a thoroughly entertaining, fluid and wonderfully relaxed movie populated by engaging, funny, attractive, perplexed and rueful characters.
Seven young adults who were housemates and students together at the University of Michigan are reunited at the funeral of one of their friends who committed suicide. For one long weekend, they reminisce about the past; talk about their work, relationships and problems; eat, drink, smoke dope and have sex; listen to music, dance, jog and play football; watch television and make videotapes of each other; share their fears and express their dreams.
Director Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat) calls the movie "a comedy of values." He has stated: "The Big Chill deals with members of my generation who have also discovered that not everything they wanted is possible, that not everything ideal they believed has stayed in the forefront of their intentions. The Big Chill is about the cooling off process that takes place for every generation when they move from the outward-directed, more idealistic concerns of their youth to a kind of self-absorption, a self-interest which places their personal desires above those of the society or even an ideal."
The screenplay by Kasdan (who wrote or co-wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, Continental Divide, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Body Heat) and Barbara Benedek presents a snappy, perceptive and brilliantly exacting crosscut of individuals representative of the baby boom generation. The director has a magic touch with his actors and actresses; they deliver some of the finest ensemble acting to be seen on the screen for years.
The generous selections of rock and soul music which punctuate the storyline are some of the many wise and salutary touches which help make The Big Chill such an exhilarating film experience. Best of all, one senses that Kasdan really likes these characters and understands the changes they are going through both as individuals and as a group.
DVD features include 9 minutes of deleted scenes, and a 56 minute "making of" featurette directed by Laurent Bouzereau.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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