“Newsweek,” the 79-year-old magazine is stepping into the present by axing their print edition to go fully digital in 2013. Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown announced the shift yesterday (tellingly on the Daily Beast site), and the polarized responses of crushing nostalgia, predictions of ultimate failure and it’s-about-time praise came from all corners of (again tellingly) the internet.
Whether it’s a signal of internal trouble or not, it’s where our world is heading, which is why it’s particularly encouraging in this time of transition to look back on some of the “Newsweek” covers of the past to discover that history tends to repeat itself. Someone should package that up and coin a phrase about it.
Of course, all of our choices are movie-themed, but as you’ll see from the selections, the ghost of the present seems to haunt the past even in the examination of the popular art. Even without the deep sentiment, it’s still fascinating to let nostalgia well up for the times gone by caught by these covers.
Predicting a Classic
The most obvious connection to the present here is the persistence of Indiana Jones not only in pop culture but also on movie screens just four years ago (even if some of you out there still deny Crystal Skull‘s existence). Maybe the early blockbuster was easy to root for, but it’s still impressive that the magazine called it a classic a mere three days after it was released. That’s a bold move no matter what, but they were right; Raiders went on to take a seat in the pantheon of the unforgotten.
That Art Deco-ish framing is a bit odd, but it’s great to see that shot so prominent (and weird to see a swastika on the cover of “Newsweek”).
In 1984, Robert Redford starred in one of the several iconic roles of his career, and he changed the name of his burgeoning Utah/US Film Festival to a much catchier moniker: Sundance. Nearly thirty years later, the festival has become a force in promoting American independent cinema just as Redford has remained a force in the filmmaking world. It has stood the test of time to become a yearly gauge and a launchpad for future talent.
Plus, on a non-movie note, does that whole Oil War thing seem familiar?
All Hail the Queen
Maybe Ingrid Bergman doesn’t seem exactly like a tie-in to the present at first (more on that in a moment), but there’s something intoxicating about looking into her steely eyes that sends shivers into strange places. By this point in her career, she was already a dynamo, having left Hollywood for a moment to portray an actresses playing Joan of Arc for a Broadway run of “Joan of Lorraine” that scored her a Tony award. That production was a play within a play about how the story of Joan of Arc affected the actors, but she’d take on the role of the French Saint herself the next year for Victor Fleming in the film Joan of Arc.
So how does she reflect the present? Beyond being another enduring icon that we still celebrate, the aforementioned film was not received well, partially for being too slow, but also because the public was aghast at the news of her affair with Robert Rossellini. This feels awful to say, but in at least one way, Bergman was the Kristen Stewart of her time.
Celebrating the Darkness of Summer
Obviously topical this month, the wide-eyed fierceness of Sigourney Weaver recalls Alien‘s current dominance in our Scariest Movie Ever tournament. Oh, and that whole Prometheus thing.
What Happened to Mr. Box Office?
This cover is the best kind of memory because it recalls a time when Eddie Murphy was at his best. It came out a month after Beverly Hills Cop hit theaters to colossal success. It represented the potential that was still ahead for the comedian who had transitioned beautifully into feature films.
However, it also raises the pesky modern question of who would be on a cover like that today. Landon and I both have been writing pieces since 2010 about the downfall of the traditional movie star – a position that is now being more widely accepted as franchises and high-visibility adaptations become the new “stars” drawing people to the cinema. Who is the last actor that could be considered Mr. or Mrs. Box Office?
Read on for an offer you can’t refuse.