A couple of year ago, I picked up a cheap used record for a dollar. It was The Big Chill Soundtrack, and though I had never seen the movie, I bought the album simply because it featured excellent songs.
Most of songs featured on the soundtrack are Motown hits. Songs include Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” The Temptations’ “My Girl” and Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Many songs appear on the film that are not included, such as “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones
Since purchasing the album, I’d often been curious about the film. It seemed strange to listen to a soundtrack so many times despite never seeing the context in which the songs were placed.
Last night I happened to be perusing Comcast’s free On Demand movies and I stumbled across The Big Chill. I couldn’t have been more surprised, and, after watching it, I couldn’t have been more pleased.
The Big Chill (1983) revolves around a group of college friends (including Tom Berenger, Glenn Close and Jeff Goldblum) who reunite after one of their friends commits suicide. They fly in from around the country and greet each other at the funeral, where they are forced to try to reconcile their friend’s unexplained death.
They spend a weekend in the same house, and realize in many ways they’ve changed a lot from their college days. Their lofty aspirations and dreams of bettering the world have turned into normal, everyday jobs. But they aren’t really sad. They just say they’ve become realists. These Baby Boomers must confront their lost youth, forgotten goals and mediocre marriages and lives. Old emotions flare up, and it’s not always pretty.
Something about this film really struck a chord with me. Perhaps it’s because I’m in college now and it’s easy for me to imagine going away after graduation and leaving this life behind, friends drifting apart, and how odd it must be to be reunited with old friends once we’ve become adults and taken our place in the real world.
During the group’s conversations over wine in the living room, record are always spinning. They come in at a low volume, but if you listen closely you can hear them. The film features a little jam session where everyone dances in the kitchen to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” This is the music of their generation, of their youth; music that brings up old memories, the messy histories of our college years after they’ve been forgotten and left behind.
This is a great movie to watch with your college friends, especially if you’re a senior and graduation and is inching its way toward you. Before you say goodbye, watch this film and enjoy your time together.
I would recommend this movie for the music alone, but the film itself is quite a powerful statement of growing up, of what we leave behind in youth, about trying to reconcile our realities and our dreams to find happiness in the modern world.
Columnist Jordan Jacobo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Video courtesy of Columbia Pictures