Choosing the right school for your young fictional son or daughter can be an arduous process. Here’s a rundown of a few Boarding School Movies.
CRACKS (2009 Dir: Jordan Scott)
The film inspiration for this list, though not an inspiring film. See my review here.
Institution Profile: All Girls school secluded in dreary woods near a lake
Curriculum: Penmanship and letter writing, diving, and flower arranging
School spirit: The girls diving team
Kings/ Queens of Campus: Di (Juno Temple) is queen of her team and rules with an iron fist. A young Spanish aristocrat, Fiamma, becomes a quick favorite and rival for the attentions of the teachers and students.
Treasured Faculty: That flower arranging teacher seemed wholesome.
Instructors to Avoid: Ms. G (Eva Green). Seems energetic and worldly with her bohemian costumes and wild stories, but beware. This alum hasn’t left the nest of the school for a reason.
Should you enroll: Definitely not. The girls can turn cruel on a dime and lax supervision allows for misconduct from students and teachers. Plus, the curriculum is as light as a silk scarf.
NEVER LET ME GO (2009 Dir: Mark Romanek)
Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s soulful and meditative novel, Romanek’s film is a faithful adaptation with a wonderful cast led by Carey Mulligan. My review is here.
Institution Profile: Hailsham Co-Ed School
Curriculum: Health and Wellness, Drama Class simulating real world interactions, Art Class.
School Spirit: Informal Team sports can be fun, if you’re not the odd boy out. Making art that is selected for the Gallery. Things really get hopping when there’s a bumper crop.
Kings/ Queens of Campus: Ruth runs a group of girls and is a favorite among the boys. Kathy H. is Ruth’s quiet right hand.
Treasured Faculty: One of the favorite Guardians, Ms. Lucy (Sally Hawkins), was dismissed prematurely for telling her students more about what “they’ve been told and not told.”
Instructors to Avoid: Ms. Emily (Charlotte Rampling), head guardian, keeps a strict eye over Hailsham, the movements of students, and their health. Madame picks art work for the gallery, but seems creeped out by the student themselves.
Should you enroll: Students were born to attend Hailsham, so if you don’t qualify thank your lucky stars.
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005 Dir: Mike Newell)
Mike Newell’s pass on the fourth book in JK Rowling’s series celebrates the prep school life of Hogwarts with inter-house squabbles pitting Cedric Diggory against our hero Harry. Also a school dance ignites love and envy among the whole school community.
Institution Profile: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Co-ed and open to Muggle-Borns.
Curriculum: Defense Against the Dark Arts gets vivid with Professor Mad-eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson).
School spirit: Hogwarts plays host to the Tri-Wizard Tournament engendering some school unity and fun activities. Watching Harry Potter out maneuver a Hungarian Horntail and beat the castle to hell, heading to the Black Lake, and the Magical Maze seem way more fun than the average Quidditch match. Also, the Yule Ball lets bookish Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) blossom in a elegant pink gown on the arm of Viktor Krum.
Treasured Faculty: Albus Dumbledore always has your back and best interests at heart, even though you may be entering a dangerous plot to bring back your mortal enemy. Professor Moody seems to be helping you defeat the dragon and rodent-tizing your Slytherin foes, but his true interests in your success are unclear.
Instructors to avoid: Study Hall with Professor Snape better be silent or else expect to be battered with a book.
Kings/ Queens of Campus: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), The Boy Who Lived, is the unexpected fourth contestant in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) splits the favor of Hogwarts students as the charismatic Hufflepuff.
Should you enroll: Definitely! You’ll make the best friends of your life, learn from the most talented and odd professors, and meet students from all over Europe.
DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989 Dir. Peter Weir)
Gold standard of boarding school, inspiring teacher, and romantic poets films. One of the best movies of all time. I dare you to disagree.
Institution Profile: Welton Academy for Boys
Curriculum: Latin, Biology, English Literature
School Spirit: Rowing is for the birds. The young men of Welton looking to Seize the Day are discovering Keats and Thoreau, writing their own verses, reciting love poems, and joining drama troupes.
Kings of Campus: Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) rallies the Dead Poets together and is the heart of the group. Charles Dalton or Nuwanda as he likes to be called is the eccentric side of the group, pushing them to take action on the ideas springing from Keating’s class.
Treasured Faculty: John Keating (Robin Williams), an alum and fantastic English literature teacher that challenges his students to think for themselves, discover their real interests, and pursue their dreams. Only answering to “Oh Captain, My Captain”, Mr. Keating breaks shy Todd (Ethan Hawke) out of his shell and channels the creative passions of Neil.
Instructors to Avoid: If you find your self in Mr. Nolan’s office you may fall prey to coercion or corporal punishment.
Should you enroll: Maybe. Only with loyal friends and teachers like Mr. Keating could the stuffy traditionalism of Welton be bearable.