Freshman year is a momentous time in the life of a student. It is a time of great change, a time of great excitement, a time of great opportunity. To prepare oneself for this new frontier, one looks towards many sources for inspiration and education. Elders with college experience, information found online and university advisors are great sources for such preparation, but perhaps there is another route.
The film medium is rife with explorations of the college experience. Countless films explore life before, during and after university. While these films are not necessarily perfect depictions of life at UConn, their stories deliver strong thematic messages on the college experience.
“Lady Bird” (2017)
This film takes place the earliest on the college timeline of our three selected films, but its story may be the most poignant for an entering freshman.
“Lady Bird” begins at the end of high school and progresses until the beginning of college, telling the story of angst-ridden teenager Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson (Saoirse Ronan).
What makes the film especially poignant is the expertly orchestrated relationship between Lady Bird and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). Their testy relations inspire the story of the film, ultimately telling a story that comments brilliantly on the parent-teenager relationship. With a stellar cast and fantastic writing and direction from Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” is a fantastic film to watch for college.
“Whiplash” is not the first film that comes to mind for the college experience, but it is a brilliant watch for an incoming freshman.
The film takes all your preconceived notions regarding films surrounding music and throws them out the window. With a fiery, explosive performance from J.K. Simmons as impassioned,
arguably abusive instructor Terence Fletcher, “Whiplash” is more psychological thriller than musical drama.
Surrounding Miles Teller’s Andrew Neiman, “Whiplash” tells the story of an ambitious jazz drummer and his volatile, sometimes violent instructor. With an artfully orchestrated, magnificently written story from director Damien Chazelle, the film comments on the dangers of endless ambition and perfectionism.
“The Graduate” (1967)
Graduation may seem incredibly far in the future, but this classic coming-of-age film is a great watch for an incoming student.
Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is struggling with an oft-pondered question – what do you want to do for the rest of your life? With no clear answer or direction, Braddock engages in an aimless search for meaning during his post-graduate summer. He ultimately gets entwined with the Robinson family, which spurns the story of the picture.
With a brilliant performance as Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, “The Graduate” is a celebrated comedy that comments on the uncertainty of this turbulent time of life. The plot twists and turns in surprising directions, but ultimately coalesces to tell a cohesive story. Armed with an iconic backing track of Simon and Garfunkel tunes, the film is just as fresh today as it was 50 years ago.
Ending with a poignant final frame, “The Graduate” completes this trilogy of college-adjacent films.