When I first watched Boyhood, I found myself looking out for the charges from year to year. After a couple of transitions I forgot all about it and just watched the film. On a second viewing I made a mental note of them with a view to this article. You can plot the passage of time by Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater’s aging process, or by the changes in Patricia Arquette’s hairstyle and Ethan Hawke’s facial hair.
What I have tried to do is list the key events from each year and put them into context alongside other projects for director Richard Linklater and stars Arquette and Hawke. I have also mentioned key world news stories and other significant movies released each year. The dates are based on the start date of 2002 with a few songs and Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign to check its progress. All descriptions are from memory of my two viewings of the movie so I cannot guarantee they are totally accurate, the same goes for the dates on the photographs.
Introduces Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and their mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Young Mason sees his mom fighting with her boyfriend.
Other Projects – Ethan Hawke doesn’t appear in the early part of film, in 2002 he published his second Novel Ash Wednesday.
In the News – In his first State of the Union address President Bush labels Iran, Iraq, and North Korea “an axis of evil”.
Olivia moves the family to Houston to be closer to her mother so she can go back to school.
Other Projects – Richard Linklater looked like he was taking a step towards the mainstream with the Jack Black comedy School of Rock.
In the News – US space shuttle Columbia crashes. The United States launches war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein is captured.
Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), the kids farther is introduced when he returns from Alaska.
Other Projects – Ethan Hawke joined the cast and also appeared in Linklater’s Before Sunset, a sequel to Before Sunrise. Hawke and co-star Julie Delpy both received writing credits on the film, the pair shared the Adapted Screenplay Oscar with Linklater and Kim Krizan. Linklater also make the TV Movie $5.15/Hr.
In the news – Al Qaeda takes responsibility for terrorist attacks in Spain that keeled more than 200 people.
We and Mason Jr. are introduced to Olivia’s professor and future husband, Bill Welbrock (Marco Perella).
Other Projects – Patricia Arquette started a six year run on the TV show Medium (2005–2011). Director Richard Linklater remade the kids baseball movie Bad News Bears with Billy Bob Thornton in the Walter Matthau role.
In the News – Hurricane Katrina devastated America’s Gulf Coast. The 7/7 terrorist attacks killed 52 people the day after London had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.
Olivia and Bill marry, we are introduced to Bill’s kids Randy (Andrew Villarreal) and Mindy (Jamie Howard). We learn Bill is a dick!
Other Projects – Ethan Hawke directed The Hottest State based on his own novel of the same name. Richard Linklater released two films, A Scanner Darkly and Fast Food Nation. The latter features both Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane.
In the News – Tony Blair announced that he would step down as prime minister the following year.
Bill’s alcoholism becomes clear. Bill forces Mason Jr. to get a severe haircut.
Other Projects – Ethan Hawke appeared in Sidney Lumet’s final film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead while Patricia Arquette was busy with season three of Medium.
In the News – The credit crunch begins. Tony Blair steps down as British prime minister as planned. Gordon Brown takes over. Madeleine McCann disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Portugal, she is still missing.
Bill becomes violent and abusive. Olivia leaves and takes Mason and Samantha and but can’t take Bills kids.
Other Projects – Richard Linklater made two films, Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach, Documentary about University of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido. Me and Orson Welles is a fictionalised version of Orson Welles’ 1937 stage production of Julius Caesar. Notable as Zac Efron’s first grownup role.
In the News – Barack Obama elected US president.
Mason Sr. takes Mason Jr. on a camping trip. We discover Samantha has a boyfriend resulting in a awkward but amusing conversation about contraception.
Other Projects – Patricia Arquette was still busy with Medium now in its fifth season. Ethan Hawke appeared in three movies, the most significant being original vampire movie Daybreakers.
In the News – Barack Obama sworn in as America’s 44th President. A pilot landed an airliner on New York’s Hudson River after birds disabled its engines, all 155 passengers and crew were rescued. Fandango Groovers Movie Blog goes live.
After another move Olivia now teaches psychology at a local college. At a Thanksgiving party we meet Jim (Brad Hawkins) and first learn of Mason’s artistic side when he talks to one of his moms students about graffiti.
Other Projects – Patricia Arquette’s time was still taken up by her TV work, no one else released anything significant.
In the News – An earthquake hit Haiti killing approximately a quarter of a million people. The worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry hit the Gulf of Mexico.
Mason Sr., now married to Annie (Jenni Tooley)with a new baby and having sold his Pontiac GTO, picks up the kids and takes them to visit Annie s parents. Mason receives various birthday gifts and we learn of his interest in photography.
Other Projects – Richard Linklater reteamed with School of Rock’s Jack Black for the true story Bernie. In an interesting post script to the story, the real life Bernie Tiede is currently out of prison, and living in an apartment above Linklater’s garage.
In the News – US forces kill the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden in a raid on the house in Pakistan where he had been hiding. Future monarch Prince William marries Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey.
Mason meets future girlfriend Sheena (Zoe Graham). When Mason arrives home late he is confronted by a drunk Jim.
Other Projects – Richard Linklater made a six part TV show, Up to Speed.
In the News – Barack Obama is elected for a second term, the Supreme Court upheld the key elements of his health care overhaul. The London Olympics are hailed a huge success.
Mason and Sheena drive to Austin to visit Samantha who is attending collage there. The pair intend to go there the following year. It also becomes clear that Olivia and Jim have separated.
Other Projects – Hawke and Linklater made the third part of the “before” series Before Midnight, one of my favourite movies of the year.
In the News – NSA-contractor Edward Snowden leaked hundreds of thousands of documents containing classified intelligence resulting in a debate over modern communication and the boundaries of surveillance.
Mason graduates from high school, by this time he has broken up with Sheena who cheated on him. Olivia sells the family home and moves to a small apartment. Mason leaves for college having been awarded a scholarship for his photography. Mason has his life in front of him, but Olivia feels she has nothing left to look forward to. Like so many Linklater movies the final scene is perfect.
In the News – Renewed unrest in Iraq, crisis in Ukraine, Ebola virus ravaging West Africa. The world sometimes feels like it is on the brink, if history and these stories have taught us anything, humanity’s ability to survive has thus far been the only thing that out-ways our ability to fuck things up.