Video Review: Billy Joel “We Didn’t Start The Fire”

In the late 1940s, a young man carries his wife into their new apartment and spins her. She takes off her veil and kisses him. Several months later, she’s pregnant, reading a magazine as she walks around the kitchen. Billy Joel stands by the sink as the young man cleans off the table.

A two-year-old baby boy screams on the kitchen floor in the 1950s. The young man reads Life magazine as he rocks his baby in the stroller. His wife walks into the kitchen and opens the oven. Dinner is burned. Joel shakes a rattle for the baby. She coos at the baby.

Joel plays a keyboard as a photo of the Edsel Ford burns in the background.

The young man reads the newspaper, its headline stating that Elvis Presley has joined the Army. He gives his little boy a piggyback ride in the kitchen and throws him a baseball. She sets the food on the dinner table and packs her child’s in a Lone Ranger lunchbox. He measures his son before he goes off to school and gives him an affectionate kick on the butt as he closes the door.

The young man photographs their son graduating elementary school. She adjusts his cap. Joel taps his drumsticks on the sink.

Joel plays the keyboard as photograph of a lynching burns.

Photos of their children decorate their bright yellow refrigerator. Mom offers her family food. Her husband ignores her as he works on building a model of a ship. Her daughter shakes her head no as she plays with Barbie dolls on the floor. She swings a hula hoop over her lips and practices the violin. Her mom covers her eyes and pops pills to cope. Her daughter twirls her skirt as she tries to hem it.

Joel continues to play as a photograph of the execution of Nguygen Van Lem burns.

Her daughter burns her bra, dropping it in the kitchen sink. She enters the kitchen through a beaded curtain and smokes. Her brother lights his draft card on fire.

Joel plays against a burning photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination.

The daughter makes tie-dyed t-shirts and their son brings home a color television. She trims a Christmas tree as her granddaughter twirls in her tutu. She opens the casket and places two nickels over her husband’s eyes. Her granddaughter frowns underneath her black veil.

Joel tips over the table against a burning photograph of Oliver North.

She turns to watch her grandson open the refrigerator door. The home consists of only a kitchen. Outside, the patches of fires burn.

Rating: 5/5

The woman stands in her kitchen, worrying what the future holds for her grandchildren. Will they have Social Security and Medicare? What tragic national events will unfold as they grow up, changing the course of history? Will they experience a recession? Will they ever cast a vote for a female president?

She and her husband had married in the late 1940s. He had written her while he was fighting in World War II, promising that he have a ring for her once he got back. She stayed home, taking care of their children as he worked at the car company, developing new models. Their lives were certain and secure.

He was a great father to their children. He encouraged them to think for themselves and told them stories about the war. John F. Kennedy’s death affected them all. She was shaken from it and was inspired by Jackie Kennedy’s strength. Her husband shook his fist every time Lyndon Johnson spoke. Her children became politically active and grew up to be rebels. Their daughter became a feminist in high school while their son protested the Vietnam War.

In the 80s, he passed. She drank some wine to deal with her grief. For forty years of her life, she had been a mother and a wife. Sometimes, she wished she could have a 9 to 5 job like her husband. The children drove her crazy and she needed to pop some pills to get through the day. Now, she’s a grandmother. Her daughter works for a non-profit and her son teaches elementary school. They explore every opportunity, something she  wishes was available to her when she was their age.

Director: Chris Blum Year: 1989

This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from items purchased through them

Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit ,Greatest City Collective, 45 Magazine ,Fevers of the Mind, Daily Drunk Mag\'s Kirstofia anthology. and forthcoming in Scrawl Place

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.