Making a comeback: 1984 all over again

The year of Band Aid is back to haunt our cultural lives. Jun Merrett and Andrew Johnson find out why

With Frankie Goes to Hollywood dominating the charts, bolero jackets and leg warmers all the rage, and Nelson Mandela still in prison, there is little reason anyone would want to revisit 1984. And yet, all around us the Eighties – and that year in particular – seem to be making a comeback.

The cinemas are full of 1984 remakes and reboots; musicians have surprised themselves by selling out comeback tours, and even Apple has gone back to the future by trying to reinvent the computer, as it did in 1984 with the Macintosh.

James Kendrick, professor of film at Baylor University in Texas, said films from 1984 were all "primarily youth-oriented". "These films have proven youth appeal, and that's where the money is," he said. "The people who grew up with these films are now making them. As the studios make fewer and fewer films – but spend more money on them – the need for them to hedge their bets is becoming greater all the time."

Mining the past isn't the preserve of Hollywood or Silicon Valley: the record mogul Simon Cowell has taken inspiration from Band Aid to launch an appeal for Haiti, while the TV sitcom Yes Minister is poised to make a theatrical comeback after leaving fans thirsting for more in 1984.


Critics have noticed the parallels between Ondine, Neil Jordan's film which sees fisherman Colin Farrell rescue a woman (Alicja Bachleda) whom he thinks is a mermaid, and the 1984 rom-com hit starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah.


Technology has developed a bit since Apple launched the first Macintosh in 1984. Steve Jobs last week unveiled the iPad tablet, basically a giant iPhone but featuring a full-sized touch keyboard and a big, glossy screen.

Red Dawn

Cold War fantasy in which brat-packers Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen battle evil Commies by forming a guerrilla group after the US is invaded by the Soviets. The Red Menace in this year's remake comes from China. Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Isabel Lucas star.

The A-Team

Liam Neeson stars in the film adaptation of the TV show, which peaked in 1984. Rather than Vietnam vets, the film centres on a group of Iraq war veterans.

Torvill and Dean

Jayne and Christopher spun and swirled to fame with their interpretation of Ravel's 'Bolero' at the 1984 Winter Olympics, which made them the highest-scoring ice dancers of all time. Although the pair officially retired in 1998, they were brought back into the public eye in 2006 with the hugely popular ITV show Dancing on Ice. Their 'Dancing on Ice' show tours the country from April.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The horror film about a group of teenagers whose nightmares become real starred Robert Englundas Freddy Kreuger. Jackie Earle Haley takes up the challenge in the remake.

The Karate Kid

Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita star in the original as bullied teen Daniel Larusso and the handyman and kung fu expert Mr Miyagi, who teaches Danny the ways of the master. The remake, transplanted to China, stars Jaden Smith.

Band Aid

Following in Bob Geldof's 1984 footsteps, above, Simon Cowell is to release a charity single to raise money for the Haiti earthquake victims. The cover of REM's 'Everybody Hurts' will be released on 7 February, and happens to feature Cowell employees including Cheryl Cole, Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis.