As Boston University’s Spring semester comes to a close, I’ve began to binge some classic school-centric films to find the motivation I need to finish this year strong. Here are some films I found about academic life that might provide some much-needed motivation for upcoming projects and finals.
Robin Williams has shown his knack for portraying intellectual, caring mentors in two well-known films about the lives of students. In “Dead Poets Society,” he plays an English teacher at an all-boys preparatory school and in “Good Will Hunting” he takes on the role of a psychologist treating a genius that ignored his potential and became a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In both classic films, Williams plays a guide and acts as an inspiration for younger generations to pursue their ambition. “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting” spark this same inspiration in their audience.
There have also been several inspirational female characters that serve as teachers and mentors, such as in the case of Ms. Norbury in “Mean Girls” and professor Watson in “Mona Lisa Smile.”
Ms. Norbury is a key character in “Mean Girls.” She pushes her students, particularly young women, to be more accepting of others amid the school’s cliquey environment. She tells 11th-grader Cady Heron she should not pretend to be less intelligent than she is to gain attention from a boy in class because she her potential should not be wasted.
Similarly, professor Watson goes against the norms of her university and inspires young women to seek a brighter future for themselves beyond the societal expectations of 1953. In a time when a woman’s perceived role was to marry and care for their families, professor Watson encouraged her students to follow their passion, whatever that may be.
Apart from inspiring faculty, many films depict students themselves navigating their way through the daily challenges of school.
This is the case for Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde.” Elle pursues an education at the prestigious Harvard Law School in hopes of winning back a boyfriend who left her for not being “serious” enough. Despite being belittled and judged for her ultra-girly appearance, Elle eventually proves she is just as smart as the other students — showing that beauty and intellect are not mutually exclusive.
“Legally Blonde” has become a legendary feminist movie after proving that femininity is not a weakness, but a strength. After all, Elle’s big trial win at the end of the film is only made possible by Elle’s extensive knowledge of hair care.
This film reiterates to its audiences the importance of not judging a book by its cover. Elle proved herself as a smart and caring individual, even when those around her assumed she was merely a vapid Valley girl.
With the inspirational message and characters these movies provide, students can become more determined to succeed in their finals and end the school year strong.