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film friday: dark academia

Welcome back for another Film Friday; a feature posted every other Friday where we recommend some of the best films from different, yet niche, genres for you to watch over the weekend.

For this week, our film recommendation theme is dark academia. This is an aesthetic that is centred around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery, and a general passion for knowledge and learning. Stemming from European culture, the aesthetic is heavily influenced by elements of higher education, writing, the arts, a heavy mix of classic Greek and Gothic architecture, along with the romanticisation of death. With dark academia’s recent popularity, we hope you enjoy the following five films we’ve recommended.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Our first recommendation is truly the embodiment of dark academia. Set in New England, a passionate English teacher joins an elite, conservative boarding school, who inspires his students through the teaching of poetry. In stirring the students to rebel against strict convention and to seize the potential of every day, they find new heights of self-expression and freedom. This motivational, yet emotional film, will leave your soul feeling empowered. In transforming the stories of artists and their art into something tangible, bold, and confronting, you are forced to acknowledge the gravity and importance of art in society. After watching this film, you’ll walk away convinced that the power of writing, performing and creating is what makes life so beautiful.

Atonement (2007)

Atonement is a romantic war-drama film, following the life of a thirteen-year-old aspiring writer who changes the course of several lives when accusing her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. Intensely groundbreaking yet heartbreaking, the film portrays a deeply moving account of one mistake that follows a girl for the rest of her life. This film may not be everyone, but if you enjoy incredible acting, visually beautiful cinematography, and having your emotions stirred, this film is definitely for you. Just make sure you have a box of tissues at hand whilst watching.

Kill Your Darlings (2013)

This film, a story of obsession and death, is in fact based on true events and characters. A murder in 1944 draws together the great poets of the Beat Generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs. With strong themes of sexual identity and personal discovery, Kill Your Darlings has similar vibes to Tartt’s The Secret History, as the film is a dark, compelling and ambitious period drama about the Beat Generation’s college days. With amazing acting and a well-constructed story, the story recounts an important era of the literary movement that pushed the boundaries of literature’s perception. Essentially, if you like depressed, pretentious gay poets, you need to watch this immediately.

Maurice (1987)

This tale of gay love portrays the restrictive and repressed culture of old Edwardian England. After his lover rejects him, a young man struggles to fit into society whilst trying to accept his sexuality. Maurice serves as an important reminder of how, for a very long time, simply being gay was deemed radical and dangerous, as people risked their livelihood, and in many cases, their lives when coming to terms with their sexuality. If you enjoyed Call Me By Your Name, you’re bound to love this film which is all delicate and messy, heartbreaking and joyous, precise and passionate. Similar to CMBYN’s screenplay, no one says what they really mean, making the film more realistic and beautifully crafted as you decipher the character’s true meanings. We truly believe this film need a resurgence in popularity as it’s truly an underrated treasure.

Harry Potter (2001-2011)

If you haven’t watched the Harry Potter films yet, what on earth are you waiting for? By the off-chance you’ve been living under a rock for the past thirty years, the films chronicle the life of an orphaned boy who enrols in a school of witchcraft and wizardry, where he faces a struggle against a dark wizard who intends to rule the magical world. These films are brimming with the dark academia aesthetic, as the films revolve around historical gothic buildings, ancient literature, and a passion for knowledge and learning. Whilst all eight films are enriched with earth tones and books, we recommend the following films for the extra dark academia kick:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (2001)

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

If you want to recommend a film, or have your own film review featured on our website, send us an email at wonderszine@gmail.com!

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