Thought-provoking list of 1980s movies that shaped our humanity

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Grand Canyon

The theme of basketball as a unifying influence, was a contributor to the successful Obama campaign, IMHO.


This is such a bizarre collection of movies.

• The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
• Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
• Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)
• Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
• *Batteries Not Included (1987)

I guess one is anime nonsense, but I’ve literally never even heard of Journey or Amazing Grace…


There were many many many excellent movies in the 80s, though I suppose the “often-overlooked” is the important part. Even then, maybe this is location-dependent? Clockwise was very popular in the UK, but not so much in the US; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was a staple of every college campus, but didn’t play many local theaters outside of the cities.


i saw nausicaa when my mom rented it thinking it was just a “cartoon” and left me unsupervised to watch it. it took me decades to figure out what it was, and that i hadn’t imagined it. i was probably like 5 or 6. this was my earliest mindfuck i can remember.


Nausicaa is not anime nonsense… It is a great film but don’t see the butchered Warriors Of The Wind. Also the manga is even better.

I haven’t seen the others and like you till now I didn’t know about Natty Gann or Amazing Grace.


I’d add “Say Anything”, “Stand by Me”, “Princess Bride”, “Do the Right Thing”, “Gregory’s Girl”: flawed and very different people trying to understand each-other and work together. Except for the last they’re not really overlooked, though.

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is a special case for me, an already good film with one strong sequence in particular that fostered empathy and solidarity in me as a teenager: the one where Stacy gets her abortion and her brother picks her up. All these years later it sticks with me.

“Brazil” is a personal favourite that could arguably meet his criteria, but the viewer reaches those places from a very different and twistier path.

One of the best and truest lines ever: “It’s not the despair, Laura. I can stand the despair. It’s the hope.”

He deliberately chose more obscure ones. “Natty Gann” and “Nausicaa” are both worth a viewing. “*Batteries Not Included” is pretty good thanks to Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn and a surprisingly political message for such light entertainment.


I guess if all Japanese animation is nonsense to you, then Nausicaa is as well. Most people consider it a classic.

We watched Journey of Natty Gann in school back in '86 or so – it’s a feel-good Disney historical drama – but I wouldn’t consider it a classic of the '80s, just a well-made family movie from the period.

Lots of 80s fantasy from back then had humanitarian themes – Neverending Story comes to mind.


Films that affected me then:
My Life as a Dog
Sugar baby
Letter to Brezhnev
Kiss of the Spider Woman.


1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home certainly has humanitarian themes. And Vulcanitarian themes too (and cetaceanitarian!).


One of my favorite John Cleese films.


Repo Man and Decline. I’m sure there’s others but not just so (for me)


2010 is an extremely '80s movie that’s as humanitarian as they come (and a personal favorite from the time).


+1 for Gregory’s Girl. I remember renting this back when you also rented the VCR, because nobody owned one yet.


I’m right there with you on humanity-shaping, with My Life as a Dog and Kiss of the Spider Woman for the humanity angle.

I’ll throw in one that certainly made the humanity/solidarity angle, though rather jingoistic on the empathy front, Red Dawn. I still cringe at the broad brush Hollywood uses to slather films in nationalism.

My favorite that fits the bill would be Kurosawa’s Yume/Dreams. Though technically 1990, I feel it was a nice bookend to the 80’s.


Okay I’ll list my favorite films as a kid from that time: Bladerunner, Aliens, The Color Purple, Iceman, Princess Bride, The Thing, They Live, Legend, and Transformers: The Movie. Yep, I was a weird kid.


Great list, although I preferred the original to the remake of The Thing.


It’s certainly an eccentric list. I think that Nausicaa is the only one that is generally considered great, by anime aficionados at least. I recall the reviews of the last three being rather lukewarm. I liked Natty Gann, way back when.

They are both good. But the remake is extremely faithful to the source material if a bit gorier and darker for the ending. The sense of paranoia in the John Carpenter version is palpable.
OTOH voice acting legend Paul Frees has an uncredited role in the original even if all they take from the source material is the alien invader on an isolated base in a frozen landscape.


Not quite late enough in the morning for a complete and utter crying breakdown. I’ll save this until after lunch, maybe.