It’s now over a quarter-of-a-century since the hazy Texan night of Richard Linklater’s seminal coming-of-age slice of life, Dazed and Confused. A final day of high school classic that blazed a trail for the likes of Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart.
An ode to the power of time, particularly the moments we choose to cling to in order to define who we’ll become, or those that keep us in a perpetual state of stagnation. Youth has never felt as fleetingly powerful as it does during this dusk till dawn of hazing, smoking, and partying. It is released on Blu-ray today with a slew of new director-approved special features on the Criterion Collection – the best in the business.
The film ends with a sunrise drive towards the horizon in order to collect Aerosmith tickets, Linklater positioning its major characters on the cusp of rest of their lives. So while we’ll never know what became of Pink, Mitch, Simone or O’Bannion, we can at least follow the trajectory of the actors who embodied them, to find out whether they’re still stood outside The Emporium, or if they made it off the football field of life.
Richard Linklater – Director
The orchestrator of this night of nostalgia, writer/director Richard Linklater has managed to maintain the indie sensibilities that made his name, all while skirting the periphery of the mainstream with the likes of School of Rock.
Justifiably lauded for his beautiful Before trilogy, Linklater also made an unofficial sequel to Dazed and Confused, with 2016’s rather baggy big-brother, Everybody Wants Some!!. This followed his ground-breaking time-capsule experimental epic, Boyhood. Much like most of his best output, it’s a deeply personal film about passages of time. The film would earn him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, which arguably should be sat on his mantlepiece right now.
Matthew McConaughey – David Wooderson
He of the back-to-back rom-com poster, owner of the greatest comeback moniker of them all: the McConaissance. And it can all be traced back to here.
Oozing the kind of laidback charm that would pigeonhole him into some admittedly very good genre pics – How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch – McConaughey clearly stood out from the Dazed ensemble in terms of potential leading man material, which he threatened to capitalise on in early efforts such as A Time to Kill, Contact, or Amistad, but tipped the scales with duffers like Fools Gold, Sahara, and Two For the Money (no, me neither).
Pinpointing his resurgence to an exact date is difficult, but 2011’s Killer Joe was as far from David Wooderson as possible, and kickstarted a run of success – The Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, Magic Mike, The Wolf of Wall Street, True Detective, Interstellar – that culminated in him stood atop the Kodak Theatre stage with an Academy Award in his hands, referencing the very character who started it all off in the first place. “Alright, Alright, Alright”.
Milla Jovovich – Michelle Burroughs
With very little screen time, Milla Jovovich was able to do what she has done throughout her subsequent career, and use that minimalist approach to maximum effect. Hers is one of those performances where during a re-watch of Dazed you’re likely to exclaim “Oh, I didn’t know she was in it”.
However, it did enough to get her noticed by Luc Besson, who cast her as the pivotal character of Leeloo in his gaudy Sci-Fi actioner The Fifth Element. She went on to work with Spike Lee in the criminally underrated He Got Game, before reuniting with Besson for the historical bomb Joan of Arc.
What’s kept her on the big screen, and made her one of the most successful of the Dazed ensemble, are the inexplicably lucrative Resident Evil movies. It’s here that she utilises her quiet manner to full effect as the kick-ass zombie hunter Alice, all to the tune of $1.2 billion at the worldwide box-office.
Ben Affleck – Fred O’Bannion
The absolute worst character to be found on the streets of Austin that night in 1976, Ben Affleck’s paddle wielding frat douche is a memorably unconscionable shit. This is thanks in no small part to an actor who’d go on to be one of the most divisive in Tinsel town, even before he’d donned the cowl and cape.
Affleck followed his fellow Dazed alumni, Joey Lauren Adams, over to Kevin Smith’s View Askew universe, where the two starred together in one of the director’s best films, Chasing Amy. After that came the small matter of a screenwriting Academy Award for Good Will Hunting, which people are quick to forget that he was also exceptional in as a performer.
Armageddon hit big in 98, solidifying Affleck as a big-screen movie star, before Pearl Harbor almost undid all the good work. Not to worry though, because an even bigger turkey – “gobble-gobble” – was just around the corner in the form of Gigli.
Then came the kind of wilderness years that might find him holed up in a Texan pool hall, where Paycheck, Surviving Christmas, and Jersey Girl posters faded on the wall.
It took a move into directing to re-ignite the career of Affleck. Gone Baby Gone heralded the arrival of a supreme talent behind the camera, and although his stint as the Caped Crusader might not have played out as we’d all hoped, there was still David Fincher’s Gone Girl, plus the success of The Town, and the Academy Award winning Argo, to give Fred O’Bannion the opportunity to bat the haters away with his Fah Q paddle board.
The Best of the Rest
There are plenty of others who did it the best that they could while they were stuck in this place. Parker Posey is terrific as hazing queen Darla, who much like Linklater, has managed to juggle blockbuster fare such as Superman Returns and Scream 3, with smaller masterpieces like Best in Show. Only recently she was the best thing about Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot.
Similarly you can look to the stars and find Anthony Rapp, who’s currently a member of the Star Trek: Discovery crew. His Dazed cohort, Adam Goldberg will be recognisable to any Friends fans for his role as Eddie in one of the sitcom’s stellar 1996 runs, as well as appearing in Saving Private Ryan, and more recently the TV adaptation of Fargo.
Perhaps the character who generates the most “I wonder what they’re up to now” responses would be Rory Cochrane’s affable stoner, Slater. Well, you’ll have probably seen him in more things than you realise. In another case of Dazed six degrees of separation, he starred in Ben Affleck’s superb Argo, as well as last year’s under-the-radar gem White Boy Rick alongside none-other-than Matthew McConaughey. His Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation co-star Renee Zellweger also has an uncredited part, randomly popping up throughout the movie in a kind of Where’s Waldo/Wally role.
We could go on all night, sadly, much like the events of May 28th 1976, the sun is about to come up, but although we all get older, these characters and this incredible film will stay the same age.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- High-definition digital transfer of the director’s cut, supervised by director Richard Linklater and cinematographer Lee Daniel, with 5.1 DTS-HA Master Audio soundtrack
- Audio commentary featuring Linklater
- Making “Dazed”, a fifty-minute documentary by Kahane Corn
- Rare on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
- Footage from the ten-year anniversary celebration
- Audition footage and deleted scenes
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: a booklet featuring essays by Kent Jones, Jim DeRogatis, and Chuck Klosterman; reprinted recollections of the filming from cast and crew, and character profiles from the Dazed and Confused companion book; as well as the original film poster by Frank Kozik