The Resurgence Of Nostalgia In Cinema


It appears that a specific niche has widened out in the world of cinema. The allure and the appeal of nostalgia seems to have taken center stage, being consumed eagerly by the zeitgeists. Whether it be the effect of the pandemic, the general horrors that seem to surround us, or the irresistible nature of nostalgia itself, cinema seems to be holding on hard to the good ol’ times, and the audience is saying yes.

The Spiderman Of It All 

It is not a mild case of the hiccups the box office is currently enduring, but rather a consistent state of COVID positive. The pandemic has left the film industry hurting, with shoots canceled, stories left unfilmed, and actors resorting to Zoom interviews for promotions. There have been several films being hailed as the potential saviors of the box office. The saviors have come and gone, shaking things up momentarily. And so the moment called not for one, but three superheroes.

Spiderman No Way Home” certainly had a wave of hype surrounding it, courtesy of the MCU’s assured audience. However, the unconfirmed leaks and the overwhelming online discourse spoke of a film that could be the first of its kind: an experiment in celebrating nostalgia. The film delivered on its unfulfilled promises, and the audience responded. The sheer cinematic shock and joy of seeing Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, and Tom Holland don the suit and form a brotherhood is a celebration of a beloved superhero and a nod to the audience.

The film seems to say, in every frame, defying all expectations of what we could see in a movie: We see you. And it can be done.

The Reboots And Reunions 

It is hard to look at the screen and not have a reboot, remake, or reunion jump out at us. From the “Harry Potter” and “Friends” cast reunion to the “Ghostbusters” remake and the “James Bond finale” to Daniel Craig, filmmakers and creators everywhere appear to be responding to the warmth that nostalgia is bound to elicit in an audience.

It demonstrates the power of a familiar face, the allure of a beloved catchphrase, and the depth of memory. Filmmakers, too, are allowed to retreat into their own beloved stories, creating and recreating what could come next. With great success, like the new adaptation of West Side Story by Steven Spielberg, and with great anticipation, like the upcoming Batman film starring Robert Pattinson, the charm of nostalgia is well and alive amongst creators and audience alike.

Other than the evident monetary success of such ventures, there is also great emotional fulfillment for fans everywhere. It is the big screen inviting us in, when all around us there is despair to be found.

The Threat Of Nostalgia 

While the endeavor remains vibrant for now, it must certainly be questioned: how long will it last? There is a point when luck turns, and good fortune changes face. It is the moment when we crave the new and the original. When we don’t want to watch the new James Bond, we want a new spy instead. We don’t think Grey’s Anatomy needs a Season 18 or 19, and we are fine with the 17 we have.

Not every remake tastes like glory, nor does every reunion still find a dedicated audience. The demand for originality is still ever-present, as we require art not only to distract us, but also to paint a portrait of our times. The classics had their days, and we must be intent on creating new classics that come as a product of our current time. It is for this shift that the preparations must already be underway.

We have never been an easy audience, content at lapping up any offering from our screen. And while nostalgia is a welcome distraction now, the moment will certainly come where we tire of it. 

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Mareena Francis
Mareena Francis
Mareena Francis Parakkal is a 25-year-old writer and poet. She has written about film, people, places, and poetry across multiple platforms and hopes to continue doing so.

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