Flashdance arrived in U.S theaters on April 15, 1983. Critics hated the film, but the public loved it. Just ten-years old at the time, I remember how torn sweatshirts and leg warmers became must-haves. Because the movie was rated R, I didn’t get to see it in theaters, but rented it a couple of years later when it appeared on VHS. Like Saturday Night Fever a few years before, it featured a catchy pop soundtrack. Me and my friends bought it and listened to “Flashdance… What a Feeling” by Irene Cara and “Maniac” by Michael Sembello endlessly.
Forty years later, Flashdance remains one of my favorite “fun” movies of the 1980’s. The story is flimsy, and the acting so-so, but there’s something about the music and the idea of a dancing welder that fits the bill on a rainy Saturday night. Directed by Adrian Lyne (Unfaithful, Fatal Attraction) and written by Thomas Hedley (Circle of Two) and Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Showgirls) Flashdance also marked the first collaboration between Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, who would go on to produce some of Hollywood’s biggest hits of the era, including Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Top Gun (1986) and Bad Boys (1995).
Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) is an eighteen-year-old woman who by day, works as a welder for a Pittsburgh steel company. By night, she works as a costumed dancer at a joint called Mawby’s. Her big dream is to get accepted at the prestigious Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory. The problem is, Alex has no real dancing experience beyond her job at Mawbys. Soon, she gives up on her dreams of the conservatory. Her hopes are further dashed when her best friend Jeanie (Sunny Johnson), fails miserably during an ice-skating competition. Alex sees herself in her friend’s humiliation.
Things are looking up, when she goes on a date with the steel company’s boss, Nick (Michael Nouri). Nick drives a Porsche and has some money. Alex isn’t too keen on getting into a relationship with her boss. Eventually, she relents and the two embark on a whirlwind romance. The relationship is up and down–Alex gets jealous of Nick’s ex-wife–but they always come back to each other. Nick believes Alex has dancing talent and when she finally submits her application to the conservatory. Her audition results in one of the most recognized dance sequences in film history. One that fit with the music video style on MTV that was popular for at the time.
Released on Blu-ray from a 4K scan in 2020 as part of the Paramount Presents line (also included in this set), this new 4K release shows notable improvements. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, colors are more vibrant throughout. Hues are rich and full. Saturation is pleasing. A nice level of grain results in a filmic appearance. Flesh tones look natural. Fine details are sharp throughout. Flesh tones appear natural. HDR improves contrast throughout. The image is free of scratches and other anomalies.
Given its memorable soundtrack, a Dolby Atmos track would have been great. Unfortunately, we get the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track found on the 2020 Blu-ray. It’s a pleasing presentation, though the soundfield was a bit subdued when it came to the more well-known pop songs. For the most part, music sounds full, and offers a nice sense of ambience. Effects are clear and accurate, and ambient sounds are realistic. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.
English, English SDH, and French subtitles are included.
The extras that appear on the Blu-ray are the same that appeared in 2020:
- NEW! Filmmaker Focus (HD, 5:51) Director Adrian Lyne discusses various aspects of the film including the dancing, visual and musical choices, casting and more. This is too short to offer anything particularly exciting, but it is an overview.
- The Look of Flashdance (HD, 9:12) Various members of the cast and crew comment on the costumes and visual design used in the film.
- Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon (HD, 8:52) Members of the cast and crew discuss the editing process, the film’s release, success and legacy.