Nostalgia is tricky. Often we celebrate the things from our pop culture past without preserving and honoring what went into them. Nowhere is this more clear than with Nintendo’s most unique peripheral, The Power Glove. Released in 1989 It is a snapshot of pop culture that ranged from the world of video games to television to film and beyond and even when it was championed, it was often maligned in the same breath for its perceived poor functionality. So why then did it become such a nostalgia touchstone? What could have possibly gone into making this product both cheered and jeered? Filmmakers Andrew Austin and Adam Ward took on those very questions in one of the most surprising and inspiring documentaries of the last decade with The Power of Glove.
Finding the story and history of a documentary like this can be difficult. Often times we are bogged down with talking heads and file footage but Glove takes a different approach. The filmmakers weave the story of the product through different points of views and timelines and it’s a welcome departure from what you have come to expect with retrospective docs such as these. Even when the story loops back on itself it is to reveal an interesting detail or event that connected to something earlier. The historians of The Power Glove, however, are the main attraction here. Everyone involved and interviewed for the film has a genuine excitement for the product they created. It was incredible to hear stories about how it was greenlit and how the reputation about the gloves functionality came out of consumers simply not calibrating it correctly. There is something very special about seeing false history corrected right before your eyes and there’s also a sad realization that it never got to really see it’s full potential realized in the video game arena.
But even in the ashes of its failure, the phoenix of its rebirth rises. The documentary gloriously highlights how people around the world are realizing the untapped potency of the bygone peripheral by using it in art and animation, music and film production. It has gone from a misunderstood toy to a legitimate force of creativity and seeing that many people have developed a new use for the glove was truly awe-inspiring. And what would the history of The Power Glove be without a stop into perhaps its most famous appearance, the 1989 film The Wizard. The doc pays perfect homage to the relationship between the glove and the film and the director of The Wizard offers some wonderful history on how it all came to be in what is one of the true standouts of the doc.
The history of The Power Glove is covered in loving but truthful detail here and it lives with an electric enthusiastic energy for its subject matter that is positively infectious. You would be hard-pressed to find another retrospective doc like this that presents things so open and honestly. Yes, nostalgia is tricky but it takes historical accounts like The Power of Glove to ensure that we remain truthful about the things we remember.
5 out of 5.
You can keep up with the film via their website at http://thepowerofglove.com/