“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
– John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)
It may just be a film quote, but as film quotes go, it’s pretty goddamn good, and it also happens to apply to everyday life. In fact, films in general appear to reflect various instances of human reality, whether through an accurate representation of life or an attempt to fulfil human desires and fears. With film so immersed in our modern culture, inadvertent reflections are so easily found within them. In this sense, we found it pretty apt to have a sift through our DVD collections and find the films that we thought best summed up past and present periods in our lives.
First up, we have the childhood film…
Sophia’s Choice: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Much like many of my peers, my first memorable cinematic experience was to see Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. While this magical film has become a bit of a cliché on the childhood representation front, it has become this for a reason. Yes, three headed dogs, unicorns with elixir-of-life-blood and trolls in
the bathroom are perfectly utilised imagination grabbing tropes, perfect for catching any kid’s attention; but the encouragement of friendship, acceptance and conquering your fears is what makes this adaptation a success. One can’t help but watch the first film in the series with a sprinkle of nostalgia which makes it one you will re-watch well beyond those childhood years (as I frequently do).
Abi’s Choice: Peter Pan
Let’s face it, you can’t get sum a childhood up more than with Classic Disney. You’re young, innocent and free so what could be more fitting than the boy that never grew up? With all of his similarly childish friends, Peter Pan managed to avoid adulthood, flying through life causing mischief and basically having the best time. For that time in your life when you absolutely refuse all responsibility and, quite literally, get to be as much of a kid as possible. I mean, I can’t be the only one who wanted to live in a tree house with my fairy BFF? No? Ok, then…
Next, we have that moody, hormonal teenage angst phase…
Sophia’s Choice: The Craft
Keeping in tune with the supernatural theme, The Craft takes the magical world and plunges it into the dark pit of adolescent angst. This film tackles body image issues, racism and peer pressure through the creepily alluring bubble of four high school girls, in their high-waisted short tartan skirts, breeches and heavy black eyeliner. A film encompassing all things rebellion (no one was even old enough to watch this when they did, where they), The Craft is a 90s fantasy thriller which will make anyone homesick for an era which they may have never grown up in (if they are able to stomach all the bursts of horror, that is). Forgot reviving the bucket hat or mom jeans, wack on this absolute classic instead.
Abi’s Choice: The Breakfast Club
It’s an entire film about existential crises so I think it’s pretty suited to that phase in your life when you are questioning what on earth you are going to do on leaving secondary school. You’ve gone from being the awkward, confused bottom of the food chain to top dog, completely comfortable in your surroundings. But now, you’ve come to realise that the feeling won’t last as you have to now hurl yourself into the future and properly consider what you are going to do with the rest of your life. Watch this film and you’ll feel less worried, trust me.
You battled your way through Secondary School, and now it’s time to face the best three (well four according to these American flicks) years of your life…
Sophia’s Choice: Pitch Perfect
So you’ve finished mandatory education and are choosing to fork out a fortune because you’ve been fed the myth that this is a guarantee on to the professional ladder. However, what you really jump onto is the social ladder, and what better glamourized Hollywood film is there to encompass the lack of educational focus during your University years than Pitch Perfect? It’s all about finding out you don’t know who you are as much as you thought you did, unexpected friendship and, well, singing. This film reflects the memories you make during this penultimate educational time in your life, all by just joining in (who would have thought).
Abi’s Choice: The Hangover
Bit of a rogue one, I must admit. I mean, I’ve never woken up with a giant tattoo on my face or wrestled a tiger… However, university is a stage in your life when the term “hangover” becomes a prominent word in your vocabulary. I don’t know anyone that has never got ridiculously drunk with their friends and then tried to piece back together fragments of the night before whilst tragically struggling to keep down their morning fry-up. If you have managed to avoid this trope of student life, then I salute you. You, sir, are my hero and I would like you to teach me your ways…
Now it gets tricky. While we are exploring ‘Life in Film’, we are personally lacking in the ‘life’ department. Despite only approaching the end of our final year at university, we decided to pick one last film that we feel summarises our attitude towards the rest of our lives.
Sophia’s Choice: Zombieland
As for the future, Zombieland is a perfect example of its uncertainty. So you’ve grown up, gone to University and ‘found yourself’, well a massive virus has taken over the planet and all institutional establishments have broken down, leaving the human race unstructured, ungoverned and an unpoliced dangerous place. Not only is this an awesomely funny and action packed film, but it goes full circle to all those childhood films, placing friendship and the creation of a family at the forefront of your future; though getting the kickass 30 k graduate scheme would be nice too.
Abi’s Choice: Forrest Gump
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. It’s true. Just like Forrest, most of us are going to be completely clueless when we leave full-time education and, really, there’s no way to plan for the future. You just have to make the most of what you’ve got and roll with the punches. I’m pretty sure Gump couldn’t have guessed where his life would lead and so there’s no point you trying to either! So take your foot off the break, my dears, and head full throttle into the unknown because, whatever the outcome, I’m sure you’re gonna love it!
It’s been a long journey through our ‘film lives’, but, interestingly, we’ve actually learnt more about ourselves than simply what our favourite films appear to be. Everyone has a different opinion on a certain stage in their lives and so the film’s they pick may vary drastically, or not. To be honest, when we started this we thought we’d have to be fighting over films but our choices highlight just how different our personalities are and how people see themselves differently through film. While some of you may relate to a few of these films, what’s more exciting is what you would choose to sum up a period in your life. So, maybe when you’re stressed with work or even fancy a bit more procrastination, ask yourselves, what would you pick?
Sophia Munyengeterwa and Abigail Etchells