Down the years, many great novelists and filmmakers have captured the magic of university and campus life, immortalising our adolescent years into popular culture forever. We’ve put a shortlist of four you should check out when you can. From coming-of-age stories to history students embroiled in international conspiracies, these are essential watches and reads that will inspire you before you get stuck into your course.
Here’s a novel, two films and a children’s literary series turned worldwide Hollywood sensation to check out in the weeks leading up to the start of the first semester. Or if you’re an international student, something to keep you occupied on your flight to the UK.
The Catcher in the Rye
J.D Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 65 million copies and is an icon of teenage rebellion. The story takes place over three days in December 1959, in which the young student protagonist, Holden Caulfield, deals with plenty of problems such as belonging issues and alienation.
The story has been listed as one of the best of the twentieth century and has inspired plenty of similar works, such as books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, and films such as Igby Goes Down. All focus on adolescence and the challenges young people face growing up, which of course we can all relate to.
The Breakfast Club
Director John Hughes’ 1985 comedy-drama The Breakfast Club stars Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald, and is a story of five high school students who spend Saturday morning detention together. There’s the usual stereotypes: a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse. Each gradually opens up as the film develops, with the characters discovering they have more in common than they would have ever imagined.
The film – an insightful and funny look into the life of the teenager – celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015 and was ranked #369 in Empire’s ‘500 Greatest Movies of All Time’ list in 2008. Give it a watch and you’ll no doubt have the soundtrack song, Simple Minds’ 80s classic “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, stuck in your head for days!
Dustin Hoffman famously starred in The Graduate, another classic about student life. However, we’ve gone for the 1976 thriller Marathon Man, in which Hoffman plays a history student who unwittingly gets caught up in a global conspiracy involving his own brother (Roy Scheider) and a Nazi war criminal (Laurence Olivier). The movie begins with Hoffman’s character, Babe, innocently getting on with his studies and enjoying his favourite hobby: running long distances around Manhattan.
However, things take a dramatic turn when a love interest enters the fray, followed by Babe’s brother – both of whom remain coy about their day-to-day lives but turn out to be his gateway into a world of international crime. The film was nominated for an Oscar, and will appeal to fitness fanatics and movie lovers alike, and it’s currently on Netflix UK, so there’s no excuse not to check it out.
If you’ve not read or seen any of the Harry Potter adventures, what have you been doing? And if you have and are expecting student to be similar to what Harry, Ron, Hermione and their Gryffindor pals get up to at Hogwarts, you might be in for a shock! Let’s be honest, we all wished we could fly on a broomstick or win the Quidditch World Cup. However, you’ll have to make do with joining a university society or exploring London, which itself can be a magical city!
If you do want your fix of Harry Potter magic, you can visit the Warner Bro's Studios for a tour and see where the films were created, or visit Platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross Station, which is only a short underground ride away from our London properties.