The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Aug 202009

What are the movies that best represent a generation? I have drafted the following list by free-association, with no reference to any sources and in no particular order. I’m doing this just to provoke comment.

I finesse two questions that I guess should be addressed in lists of this kind: Do we just focus on films of “generational” interest per se—as opposed to films that were simply very popular with the generation in question? (e.g., The Godfather was very popular among young Boomer (born 1943-1960)… but was not really a generational film.) And do we focus only on films that appear when the generation in question is coming of age? (e.g., The Big Chill appeared in 1983, when even the youngest Boomers were adults… but it is very much a generational film.)

Anyway, here goes:


  1. The Graduate
  2. Goodbye Columbus
  3. Deerhunter
  4. Apocalypse Now
  5. Easy Rider
  6. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  7. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  8. Yellow Submarine
  9. Alice’s Restaurant
  10. The Big Chill
  11. Woodstock
  12. American Graffiti
  13. M*A*S*H
  14. Annie Hall
  15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  16. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  17. Saturday Night Fever