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Adrian Lyne Interview: ‘Flashdance’ Director Discusses the Film’s 40th Anniversary

Director Adrian Lyne speaks with us about ‘Flashdance’ celebrating its 40th anniversary, including the Paramount Home Entertainment 4K Ultra HD edition out now!



Adrian Lyne

Tease up that hair and bust out the leg warmers! Director Adrian Lyne’s electrifying classic Flashdance celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. To celebrate the milestone, Paramount Home Entertainment is releasing the film for the first time on 4K Ultra HD today, May 9th, 2023.

Newly remastered and approved by Lyne, Flashdance looks (and sounds) incredible on 4K Ultra HD. The new release also includes the remastered film on Blu-ray™, along with access to a Digital copy of the film and legacy bonus content.

Originally released on April 15th, 1983, Flashdance was a massive hit, becoming the third highest-grossing film of the year in the U.S., as well as a pop culture sensation. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards®, and Irene Cara won for her iconic song “Flashdance… What a Feeling.” Filled with music, drama, and dance, Flashdance remains an influential and wildly entertaining cultural touchstone.

Jennifer Beals stars as Alex, a fiercely determined 18-year-old with one all-consuming dream to study at the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance. Working during the day as a welder and at night as an exotic dancer, she bravely pursues her dream and undertakes an unforgettable journey that reveals the power of her convictions.

Bonus content includes the following:

-Filmmaker Focus: Director Adrian Lyne discusses Flashdance
-The Look of Flashdance
-Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon
-Theatrical Trailer

A few weeks ago, Adrian Lyne partook in a virtual junket taking questions about his time with Flashdance. We thank Lyne for taking part of his day to field a few questions for V13 via Zoom. The audio (via SoundCloud) and video (via YouTube) are available here if you’d prefer to hear Lyne’s answers in real time.

How amazing is it that 40 years have gone by for this film?

Adrian Lyne: “It’s ridiculous, really. I’m flattered that people are still talking about it, given that when it came out, everybody was running for the hills. Nobody thought it was going to do any business. It’s funny; the studio, for example, sold off 30 percent of its interest two weeks before the movie came out (laughs). So they looked at the movie and said, ‘This is a piece of shit, we’d better bailout.’ It’s interesting, really. I couldn’t get anybody on the phone either. It’s one of those classic things, you know? Like all of a sudden, you’re an orphan.”

What do you recall about that time in your career in, say, 1981 to 1982 when you were putting this together? Do you feel like you were touching on the zeitgeist of what was happening and fashion and music at the time?

“Well, I was offered the film a couple of times, and I thought it was a little silly. Well, I wasn’t crazy about the script, to be absolutely honest. And then I realized that they’re actually going to make the movie and spend eight million dollars or whatever, so I thought I should do it and try to make something of the dances and give it some energy, and I’m glad I did.

“It started to come together when I saw Jennifer Beals, you know? She’d come in; she had never acted before. She was only 17, I just thought she was so refreshing, vulnerable, and lovely looking, and I went galloping through to Jerry Bruckheimer, who was in the other room, and I said, ‘You have to see this girl; she’s phenomenal.’ She wasn’t a great dancer or anything, so it wasn’t the obvious thing to do, but you know, I got two people in one in having Marine Jahan as well to do the dancing.”

Flashdance 4K 40th Anniversary cover

Flashdance 4K 40th Anniversary cover

Can you talk a bit about a scene or a moment in the film that you found particularly difficult to capture?

“Well, I would say that the wet-dance thing, when the water comes down. Before I did the scene, this was before the movie; I said, ‘I really want to do a wet dance,’ and I didn’t know how to do it and didn’t have a clue what to do, and I had a weird thing where I had to explain to the executives at Paramount when I was going to do. And there were bleachers on set, so they looked down on me; I was at the bottom with a poor girl with a hose pipe around her. I put a hose pipe on her. I was trying to sort of explain, and I didn’t know what I would do myself, to be honest, what it would be like with the water flying around.

“It would be funny because the water would drench somebody in the audience, and she would look great because her body would be wet. But their skepticism was unbelievable; they just looked down and, honestly, didn’t believe a word of it, and I was feeling my way when I was shooting it.

“I was trying to get the water back-lit enough, so it was like it really sparkled, you know? And I couldn’t get the lighting right, and then we were worried about how much water was coming because the amount of water to make it dramatic was quite a lot, and we were thinking maybe it would break her neck, the poor girl. Not literally, but we were worried about how heavy it would be, so that was tough. But fun when it started to work out. And I used the drop twice, you know, so I cheated, really. It was fun, and the dancer was good.

Flashdance “Wet Dance” movie still

Flashdance “Wet Dance” movie still

“It’s funny because the choreographer wanted another girl who was actually a friend of his, and I understood why he wanted her. He wasn’t actually a choreographer; it was great to work with him because he was a dancer, and so he hadn’t done a routine that was set in concrete that I couldn’t touch. So I could do it almost together with him; I could say, ‘Well, it’s a pity it stops there, should keep it going and keep the energy going?’ and that sort of thing.

“I remember seeing two blue light bulbs hanging down together in a magazine, and I thought, ‘Shit, that looks interesting; I could use that.’ It’s just a tiny detail. But I stuck that in that sequence, just two blue light bulbs for no reason, and that I find is enormous fun when you can pick some minor detail like that and then stick it in and make the background sing. There was another sequence that was strobe. And I used a sort of graph paper, a crisscross thing, for no reason other than it was a bit different. I’ve always thought that maybe a director should be called a selector. After all, you’re selecting actors and locations, scripts, whatever it might be; I think it’s more apt to give a director that title.”

I’m curious how far along the music from Giorgio Moroder was when you were doing all of the filming. Did you have all of that in hand?

“Oh no, it was happening at the same time. So I was involved in that. The one I was involved in most was ‘Maniac.’ And I remember hearing a track that a group called Kraftwerk did. Have you ever heard of them? They’re German. And I was working with Phil Ramone; he was marvellous, I loved working with him. He was a music producer, and I said I’d just heard this tune that Kraftwerk did, and it had kind of like a bell chime thing going on, And I said, I think this could work in ‘Maniac.’ And he heard it and said, ‘Yeah, it’s great. We’ll put it in,’ so we stole a bit of Kraftwerk and put it in ‘Maniac.’”

Wonderful. Why did the movie pull a restricted rating when it came out? Watching it now, it just feels like a TV show to me.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I mean, because then it was easier to do more risque stuff than I think now, perhaps? Or maybe it was the strip club thing where people were naked. Maybe it was that? I don’t know.”

It felt pretty light to me when I was rewatching it.

“Me too, me too. I was fairly pleased. I saw it last night for the first time in 15 years, probably. I thought she held up well, Jenifer Beals. She has a very sweet quality, a vulnerable quality, which I think helped the story really.”

I watched it with my girlfriend last night, and she said the scene where Alex takes her bra off underneath her shirt was a game-changer for her; she didn’t know that was possible and does it all the time now. 

“It’s funny. That’s it. See, I never worked it out; I never quite worked out how she did it. Beals did it when she was changing when I was doing the wardrobe to get from one outfit to another, and I watched her do it with my mouth open. I couldn’t work out how she did it, but I remember thinking to myself, I’ve got to put that in; I’ve got to use that. And it made that scene. It made the scene much more interesting, I think.”

It did. I will wrap up with one last one; I would love to know what themes from Flashdance you think are going to carry forward for new viewers watching it in this 2023 era.

“Well, I guess it’s a bit corny, but going for your dream. If you want something enough, if you really want it enough, I think pretty much that you’ll get it. I really do. And I think that was nice, the message. I liked the relationship with the old girl. Lilia Skala, I believe her name is; the old lady who was the ballet dancer. I think the message is good: you must stick with your dream.”