Pleasures of Nostalgia, Problems of Authenticity: 1970s America in Crowe’s Almost Famous, Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, and Scorsese’s The Last Waltz




Harrison, Justin

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Nostalgic representations of history in film may be viewed through one of two lenses: a sense of “safe haven” providing stability in a now-idealized past, or as an artistic “mode,” expressed as a specific genre of media product privileging aesthetics and stylistic pastiche. Three films enable us to discuss the nature of nostalgic film and their inherent obstacles to authenticity through these lenses. Two quasi-autobiographical films, Almost Famous (Crowe, 2000) and Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993), provide a form of nostalgic pleasure through the presentation of a past that is, per Jameson, replaced by our cultural stereotypes of the past. Scorcese’s The Last Waltz (1978) serves as a jagged counterpoint to the glossy stylings of these last two texts through The Band’s nostalgic lyrics, musings, and remembrances relying more deeply and implicitly on a shared and received generational experience. Although intending to nostalgically celebrate the closing stage of the 60s generation’s youth, the concert and film also serve to problematise its idealized narrative by disclosing the ways Scorcese knowingly plays with the inherent fabrications of the documentary film medium, thus conferring a kind of truthfulness. Together, these films provide a glimpse into how nostalgia interacts with authenticity.


Presentation at London Film and Media Studies Conference, 2013.


Martin Scorcese, The Last Waltz, Nostalgia in Film, Postmodernism, Richard Linklater, Film Studies