RENT Rant: Anachronistic much?



Does anyone know the precise year in which RENT is set? It seems that Christopher Columbus and Stephen Chbosky do – 1989. But wait! Wasn’t Thelma and Louise , a film reference in RENT only released in 1991? How did Angel know what ‘Thelma and Louise did when they got the blues’? And what about the reference to 1995 Oklahoma City Building in “Over the Moon”? Or is the mention of ‘being tied to a yellow rental truck filled with fertilizer and fuel oil’ really meant to hold no resonance whatsoever? Clearly this choice of setting isn’t what Jonathan Larson had in mind when he created the show.

And if you’re going to make a period film, shouldn’t the design details be correct too? Just a few little inconsistencies from the film:

  • New York City Police Officers wore light blue shirts in 1989, not dark blue shirts as depicted in the film.
  • The can of Coca-Cola seen next to Roger after “Another Day” is a design that appeared in the 1990s.
  • Au Bon Pain only adopted a blue and yellow color scheme well after the 1980s were over and done with, yet this design is clearly seen as Maureen, Joanne and Mark make their way to Buzzline.
  • Cars in the backgrounds of many shots, such as in the scene after Maureen, Joanne and Mark leave Buzzline, were only produced after 1990.
  • The MetLife logo wasn’t displayed on the Pan Am building until 1992.
  • The posters for the Olympic Bid – seen in “What You Own” did not appear until New York actually put in their bid for the Olympics in 2004.

Oops! I guess Howard Cummings, Keith P. Cunningham, Nanci Noblett and Barbara Munch didn’t do their homework either. Tut tut tut…

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6 Responses to RENT Rant: Anachronistic much?

  1. Kad says:

    How about the lack of a proper, time-accurate New York City skyline? It’s 1989 – the World Trade Center should be a prominent part of any New York City skyline shot. It’s not offensive. It’s accuracy.

  2. Ryan J says:

    I think it’s funny though how there are things like a modern Range Rover in 1989 or the line “like Thelma and Louise did when they got the blues” when Thelma and Louise didn’t come out until 2 years later and so on.

  3. Andy Simpson says:

    I became a RENT fan because the music was great! I could really care less about the little things that may or may not be totally accurate. Thelma and Louise came out in 1991, and RENT takes place in 1989/1990. So what? It simply doesn’t matter! It’s a frigging film!

  4. David Fick says:

    That’s precisely why it matters. We should demand excellence from our art forms and particularly from the art forms we would like to see prosper in the future! Having Thelma and Louise as a reference in RENT is like doing a film of Jesus Christ Superstar and having the Pope attend the crucifixion – he couldn’t have been there; it’s anachronistic.

  5. Descartes says:

    It would have been pretty damn funny though.

  6. Kad says:

    RENT didn’t need a year branded into it. Now it is, forever dated by 1989, an automobile model that wasn’t on the lots, and a movie that wasn’t finished shooting. It was handled poorly.

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