national Arts Festival Banner

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


This week Phansi Museum will screen American Graffiti, on June 13, 2019.

American Graffiti is a 1973 American coming-of-age comedy film directed and co-written by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Bo Hopkins, and Wolfman Jack.

American Graffiti depicts multiple characters undergoing the angst and dilemmas of a coming of age. The 1962 setting represents nearing an end of an era in American society and pop culture. The musical backdrop also links between the early years of rock 'n roll in the mid-to-late 1950s, typified by Bill Haley & his Comets, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, and the British Invasion of the early 1960s.

Despite the fact that most of the musical soundtrack originated from black singers and composers, save for a brief cameo appearance, there is a total absence of black characters in the film emphasizing the sanitizing bubble that enveloped mid-American consumer society. As a result, any anti-social behaviour is depicted as cutesy and the result of good, clean teenage fun, which is a denial of the often-violent behaviour that youth gangs were capable of showing at the time.

The movie is also set before the outbreak of the Vietnam War and President Kennedy’s assassination, and before the peak years of the counterculture movement. American Graffiti evokes the American cultural relationship with the motor car and the hot rod. Another theme is the importance of radio and radio personalities in the life of teenagers, as personified by DJ Wolfman Jack and his mysterious and mythological faceless voice.

American Graffiti rekindled public and entertainment interest in the 1950s and 1960s and influenced a number of other films and TV programmes. The film's box office success made George Lucas an instant millionaire, and his net worth at the time rose to $4 million, $300,000 of which he set aside in an independent fund for his long-cherished space opera project. In 1995, American Graffiti was deemed culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

American Graffiti will be screened at 17h30 on June 13, 2019. There is no entry fee but a donation is greatly appreciated.

Phansi Museum is situated at 500 Esther Roberts Road, Glenwood, in Durban. Contact the director, Fran Saunders, on 031 206 2889 or email or visit