Top Gun: Maverick has landed on Paramount+ (where it’s predictably a big hit), so having heard how great it is the past six months, I wanted to check it out.
Yeah...it’s great. Congrats to everybody involved. It’s like the perfect blockbuster.
It should absolutely be studied by anybody trying to write a screenplay: the simplicity, the foreshadowing, the absolute clarity of who characters are and what they want—and, above all, THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT.
It’s not to my taste—this is way more of a fantasy than Andor, and that was set in another galaxy—but as Ash said about the xenomorph, “I admire its purity.” (Did you notice how the bad-guy country is never named? Clearly it’s “Evilcommiestan.”)
Also, the spectacular technical achievement—all those flying sequences—and the way they are rendered with, again that word, CLARITY...congrats!
You always know who is who and what they’re trying to do and where the threats are, even when we’re whizzing around and all the planes look the same—we take this for granted, but it is so hard to execute.
And the casting is super enjoyable. All those beautiful, beautiful people.
So, about that...in recent years, it has been popularized that Top Gun is, well, really really gay. Let’s let Quentin Tarantino explain:
I first learned of Top Gun’s status as a gay masterpiece (haha, sort of joking) in college, ironically at around the time that above clip was made (1994). In my junior year, I saw a class being offered, I forget the exact title, but it something like “Music and Gender in Film.”
I was like, holy cow, I’m the editor and creator of Film Score Monthly, I gotta take this!
So I did—and it was a great class! It was actually in the Women and Gender Studies department (“WAGS”) and taught by a visiting professor from Smith College (down rt. 9, in Northampton), Raphael Atlas.
He was a delightful person and a really great teacher—also, as I remember, a really good pianist. I just looked him up and was proud to see many good reviews. Hello, Raphael, if you see this!
We looked at the James Bond scores for how they sexualized the women, with “wet brass” as in strip clubs; at the classical/romantic John Williams scoring of Han and Leia’s relationship in The Empire Strikes Back; and, most definitely, that (in)famous beach scene in Top Gun:
I’m sure a lot of people are groaning that they hate this type of cultural analysis. Of course, you’re entitled to your opinion. I loved it—it opened my mind, and even though I knew a ton about film music, it introduced ideas I hadn’t considered.
Talking about this now, it reminds me how some “woke” stuff has gone way overboard—you know, the “word police,” etc. I groan at it, too.
But at the time, the concepts that led to what’s now called “woke” was just solid liberal arts schooling—and it has a lot of validity, then and now.
So, armed with my knowledge of gay cinema, watching Top Gun: Maverick was a sort of hilarious experience—this massive-budget story of a fighter pilot who is still mourning his “lover” (Goose) and trying to reconcile with the dead man’s son (from his “straight life”).
This was the biggest movie of the year (until Avatar 2) and absolute crack cocaine for middle America—and nobody realizes how hugely gay it is?!
I’ll leave producer Jerry Bruckheimer with the last word, who was asked about this in an interview and, to his credit, was totally cool:
“When you make a movie, people can interpret it in any way they want and see something in it that the filmmakers had no idea they were tapping. So we’re surprised every time we hear something talked about, or written about, the films that we make that have no real context for the filmmakers or what the filmmakers wanted to do. And yet there’s a relevance to them, because people believe it.”
He also said, “Coming from Quentin, it’s always a compliment.”
Oh, I do want to add one thing! It was a delight to hear the familiar Harold Faltermeyer themes. It was a flashback to how things used to be, where a really popular movie also had a distinctive musical sound. It didn’t date at all!