1980s Films and Now

How did the way films are made change between the 1980s and today?

Odin Halvorson
6 min readMay 7, 2022



It’s been years since I hopped off the path of film historian and cinema theorist, but I still love the topic and frequently follow discussions as I find them online. I recently ran across this comment as part of a Tumblr thread and posted it as a topic of interest over at Round Table Writers. A great exchange with a friend followed, looking at how the film industry has changed, and poking at some of the “why's” as well as the “What does it matter’s” of the topic.

that crunchy vibe that 70s/80s movies have that modern movies simply cannot capture… that kind of quiet empty vibe to em that can be played for either bleakness or a peaceful energy… why do all modern movies (even the great and pretty ones) feel overproduced after watching an older film. what is it I can’t put my finger on it but it’s there I can feel it

A brief overview of the issue with modern films


One of the commentators on the Tumblr thread posted about how modern Hollywood films have been standardized to follow a specific “beat” pattern as a uniform template across the industry. They referenced an article in Slate by Peter Suderman that dives into this, where he calls out Blake Snyder’s 2005 book Save the Cat which was one of the more modern examples of an exploration of this type of standardization (but by no means the first).

But some of the other commentators brought up interesting points as well about the nature of the technology behind film making now vs in the 1980s.

  • Shot on film
  • No digital colour grading (today’s films are horribly over processed)
  • No in-the-computer composite layered scenes with virtual sets etc. practical sets and effects — hand painted mattes / hand animated vfx
  • You used the light you had instead of endlessly tweaking it



Odin Halvorson

A futurist/socialist/fantasist writer, editor, and scholar. BFA/MFA. Free access to my articles at OdinHalvorson.substack.com | More over at OdinHalvorson.com.