Feature: The genius of John Hughes

Date posted: 26 Sep 2012Author: STC

Filmmaker John Hughes, who passed away in 2009, touched a generation with the teen films he created in the mid-1980s. He respected the voice of youth and presented his audience with the 1980s film equivalent of the medieval morality play. He wrote about acceptance and the differences between people, and presented a vision of teenage life as a jungle that could be survived if you approach it with integrity and a good heart. Ryan Gilbey wrote in his obituary for Hughes in The Guardianon Friday 7 August, 2009:

"Hughes's widely adored protagonists could range from a misfit in thrift-shop threads (Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink) to a slick Jack-the-Lad outwitting the teacher who would thwart his truancy (Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). What united these figures was the spirit of individuality and defiance they retained in the face of a stifling, conformist adult world. No wonder the films were prized by audiences of equivalent age, who felt both understood and flattered by these celebratory snapshots of their generation. "Many filmmakers portray teenagers as immoral and ignorant," Hughes remarked in 1985, "with pursuits that are pretty base ... But I haven't found that to be the case. I listen to kids. I respect them ... Some of them are as bright as any of the adults I've met." The following year, he said: "My generation had to be taken seriously because we were stopping things and burning things. We were able to initiate change, because we had such vast numbers. We were part of the baby boom, and when we moved, everything moved with us. But now, there are fewer teens, and they aren't taken as seriously as we were. You make a teenage movie, and critics say, 'How dare you?' There's just a general lack of respect for young people now.""

Hughes' 1980s oeuvre was a strong influence in the creation of School Dance, the bitter-sweet teen drama created by Windmill Theatre that we are presenting in our 2013 season. Here we remember Hughes and his seminal filmmaking by looking at some classic dancing scenes from his films... 

First a clip from Sixteen Candles(1984) in which Anthony Michael Hall mortifies Molly Ringwald with his moves.

The dancing scenes from The Breakfast Club(1984) is an absolute classic. Detention never looked so fun.

Jon Cryer attempts to seduce Molly Ringwald with his Otis Redding tribute in Pretty in Pink(1986).

Finally, one of the great dancing movie scenes of all time. Matthew Broderick gets people on the street to join in the action in Ferris Bueller's Day Off(1986).

School Dance, Wharf 1, 11 January - 3 February, 2013.