Nostalgia Isn’t What it Used to Be

Ethels-2-greyscale-Nick Lachance

Photography by Nick Lachance

Nostalgia isn’t a feeling, a marketing scheme, or a certain aesthetic style. To me, nostalgia is a lifestyle – a way of perceiving the world. For those who know me, I live in nostalgia. Many others submerge themselves in greyscale memories of the past, too. The flickering light of a film is like the first flutters of a baby in her mother’s womb. The shadows on the screen are warm, comforting, and invite my jaded heart into a better world that never existed. Sometimes the film’s message criticizes the society in which it was made in, but the filmic setting is still more preferable to the stage we are performing on. There is always a little more hope in a film, a little more love, and more dreamers in the films of the 1930s and 1940s. There is always a need for more dreamers in filmmaking, for they are the ones who remind us to “forget your troubles, c’mon, get happy!”*

Too much action stirs violence, too much drama creates melancholy, an imbalance of raunchy comedy places a lack of respect in people. Slapstick, wit, and heart are essential elements to nostalgic films. I wish contemporary films included these ingredients, but the thing with nostalgia is it can’t be reproduced. It refuses to be recreated. The emotional high experienced by nostalgia is a fleeting moment – perhaps only 90 minutes long. It will not be found, embraced, or fondled permanently. The longing for nostalgia’s caress on the soul is an everlasting game of hide-and-seek. Nostalgia is a lifestyle because you are constantly searching for its calming innocence. It is a rather cruel fate: you never feel at home in your current era because you are obsessively stalking the shadows of eras gone by.

*Judy Garland singing “Get Happy” in Summer Stock (1950)