Higher education, Hollywood-style

Through the decades, university has been depicted to the viewing audience in a variety of ways. As student life continues to fascinate directors on both the small screen and in cinema. shares his top ten films and TV series related to university

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The Young Ones (1982-1984)

Classic British 80’s sitcom that casts a large shadow over the modern British comedic scene. Brimming with offbeat anarchic energy, as well as featuring the colossal talents of Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Ben Elton and Alexei Sayle, the young ones’ scumbag college still accurately defines what it feels to live in squalid student housing.

Fresh Meat (2011- )

What makes this loveable, razor sharp TV comedy so successful is just how relatable and densely crafted each of the characters are. From JP, the arrogant yet hapless posh boy to the hard partying, yet secretly insecure Vod, Fresh meat paints a vibrant picture of the various colourful characters you will most likely meet in your time at university. Sam Bain, co-creator of the show, has been touting a film adaptation for some time, although no concrete plans have been made so far.

Animal House (1978)

Echoing what The young Ones did for British sitcom, the influence Animal House on US comedy, from American Pie to Old School, is undoubtable. Containing the boundless creativity of Harold Ramis, John Landis and the mythical comedic talent of John Belushi, Animal House was a huge commercial and success. Irresistibly funny and chaotic, Animal house perfectly encapsulates the madness of University life.

monstersuniversityMonsters University (2013)

It is always hard to follow perfection, but Monsters University came painfully close. The scene where Mike Wazowski walks around the Monsters University Freshers fair with youthful vigour and abandon brings back nostalgic moments of my own tentative steps around Vanbrugh paradise. It feels strange to relate so strongly to an animated talking, green eye but Pixar always knows exactly the right chords to play in eschewing accessibility and empathy.

The Social Network (2010)

The story of Facebook, directed in true David Fincher style, captures the dark underbelly of Harvard campus all while set to a pulsating, driving soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails head honcho, Trent Reznor. The film gained a load of nominations at the 83rd academy awards, ultimately losing to the kings speech in both the best picture and best director characters Nobody guessed that the origin of Facebook, could be made so tense and absorbing, yet Fincher proved all the doubters wrong and came up with another film to add to his impressive filmography.

21 (2008)

Based on a true story, 21 details the sordid world of counting cards by a group of intelligent MIT students, led by student Ben and their professor Micky Rosa, played by the indomitable Kevin Spacey. The brutalist 1960’s architecture of campus may be a far cry from the glitzy glamour of Las Vegas where most of the action in the film takes place, yet from the youthful vigour of the opening credits as Jim rides his bike onto campus to the adolescent dreamers anthem, Time to pretend by MGMT, to the lifeless seminar rooms where the group practice, 21 proves itself grounded enough to relate to us student folk. It may have been a critical failure of sorts on its release, but the film still offers a fun thrill ride, led by charming performances from the two leads, Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Strong and intelligent drama, featuring a tour de force performance from the legendary Robin Williams. Good Will Hunting, sees Matt Damon as the eponymous janitor, working at MIT, who also happens to be a genius and Robin Williams, as the psychologist who attempts to coax him out of his blue collar lifestyle and realise his full potential. Kudos to joint writers, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who created an incredibly touching and multi-faceted screenplay that deservedly won them an academy award for best adapted screenplay.

starterfortenStarter for Ten (2006)

The premise may not be the most appetising, but Starter for Ten turns the ultimate test of student minds up and down the country – University Challenge – into a charming, typically British coming of age story. Featuring a plethora of young British talent, from Benedict Cumerbatch in a supporting role to leads James McAvoy and Alive Eve – Starter for Ten is a seamless example of just how good British film can be.

Community (2009- )

Much loved sitcom set in an American community college, sort of like the US version of a polytechnic. Quirky characters and popular references abound along with a career topping performance by Chevy Chase, as Community provides a modern update of the oft used US sitcom scenario of a group clashing friends, all while set in the relatable college seminar room.

chariotsoffireChariots of Fire (1981)

A bold and wistfully romantic film, that touched the heartstrings of many all over the world and put British film firmly back on the map once again when it ran away at the Oscars in 1981. The film follows two outsiders, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams as they compete against each other at Cambridge University all the way to the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

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