Austin, Texas, auteur Richard Linklater is an unashamed purveyor of ideas, from the cerebrally sublime to the addle-brained ridiculous. Where his breakout feature Slacker (1991) used mini-narratives to string together its ideas, Before Sunrise (1995) found Linklater supercharging a conversation between two strangers whose intellectual intercourse led to romance. The purest example of the director’s love of ideas was Waking Life (2001), a cinematic stream of subconsciousness over bold animation. But it was Dazed and Confused (1993) that connected Linklater to his biggest crossover audience. Using slice-of-life comedy and a colorful ensemble, he created a winning vehicle for his oddball philosophizing. This new DVD edition illustrates why the film remains the Citizen Kane of teen flicks.
From its opening shot, with a Dodge Rambler cruising the high school parking lot, to the stoned groove of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” Dazed & Confused establishes a perfect setting for his tale: that time in life when ideas and ideals are most important. When believing in something—even if it was a heavy-lidded spin on Martha Washington’s joint-rolling prowess—was vital. Even if you weren’t a teen in the mid ’70s, we all experience this bittersweet passage and can’t help identifying as these characters share their rambling, goofy, stilted, often ill-informed but desperately important ideas.
A bonus disc of supplementary material gives a glimpse into the development of the film, from vintage public service announcements to deleted scenes that highlight its loose improvisational approach, lending the film its winning, spontaneous feel.