The Film Experience is proud to welcome back Anne Marie and her series "Women's Pictures" after a month long hiatus. September's episodes (each Thursday) will focus on Amy Heckerling. If you missed previous subjects, Anne Marie's series on female directors already covered Ava DuVernay, Ida Lupino, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Agnes Varda, Kathryn Bigelow - Editor
The days are getting shorter, the weather is turning colder, and just as you perfected your righteous tan, the bell rings and it's back to school you go! Anne Marie here, after my own (all too brief) summer vacation, ready to celebrate Back To School month with the female filmmaker who has exercised as much influence on the Teen Film genre as John Hughes: Amy Heckerling! While Heckerling's ouevre has run the gamut from slapstick to parody to fantasy, she's best known for two genre-defining high school films made a little over a decade apart: Clueless (1995), which we will cover later, and Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), the topic of today's lesson.
When Heckerling set about making Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the early 1980s, she wasn't looking to define a genre. There wasn't yet a teen film genre to define. John Hughes was still two years away from making Sixteen Candles, and American Grafitti, now pointed to as the first teen film, was already almost decade old with few major successors. What drew Amy Heckerling to Cameron Crowe's script about high school students was the realness of its characters. Fast Times At Ridgemont High was no nostalgia-tinged look backward at youth; it was an expose written by Cameron Crowe, who'd gone undercover at a high school for Rolling Stone to observe contemporary teens. Fast Times at Ridgemont High was something new: high school from the teenager's perspective. [More...]