The world of movies is an amazing one. Pick a theme and chances are you will find dozens of listings of movies that fit the bill, all with a distinct take on the subject. And although you will find hundreds of movies that deal with universities, education, student life and related issues, there are some that force a viewer to dig deep into themselves through their powerful messages. Here, we have compiled a list of five great Hollywood movies with great life lessons we think will greatly help the younger lot still involved in the education process.
Read on and get the download going for the weekend movie spree.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
The story revolves around William Hunting, a cocky young man who works as a janitor at M.I.T. His exceptional mental prowess gets discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) when Hunting completes a complicated mathematical problem the professor puts up on a board as a challenge to his students.
Once he manages to get hold of the elusive riddle solver, Lambeau urges Hunting to focus on his genius and realize his potential, sending him to therapy to clear the clutter in his mind. When therapy sessions prove futile, Lambeau asks Sean Maguire (Robin William) to try to put Hunting in order. From there the viewers are taken through several emotionally charged interactions between Hunting and Maguire, with the latter eventually helping the young man fight childhood demons and find his true purpose and direction in life.
The movie offers beautiful lessons on several aspects – trauma, love, commitment, and focus – but most importantly, it shows that talent alone is not enough to survive in the real world and making peace with the past is necessary to find peace in the present and the future. And that epic park bench speech by Maguire. Phew!
“I don’t give a s**t about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some f****n’ book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated.”
Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
The top two movies on our list both have Robin Williams in major roles, but that does not make us partial in any way. John Keating (Robin Williams), an English teacher, employs unconventional methods to engage with his students in a preparatory boys’ school renowned for its devotion to tradition and obedience. Keating motivates his students to read poetry with authentic feelings rather than in a dull critical way. To be themselves and not cave in to the demands of the status quo.
The students, feeling ever pressured by their families and administrators, feel instantly connected with the eccentric teacher and follow his teaching of Carpe Diem (‘Seize the Day’). The movie provides a wonderful critique of slavish attention to tradition in academic institutions and shows that students deserve to be inspired rather than frightened to make turn them into able adults.
Also, it suggests that students can perform well when they follow their own vocation as the imposed wishes of parents can lead to emotional suffocation only. And to be frank, Carpe Diem certainly became the mantra of the school going population back in the day thanks only to Dead Poet’s Society.
“The human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
Freedom Writers (2007)
The movie’s protagonist is Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank), who engages with at-risk teenage students that are considered incapable of personal growth and learning. To add fuel to fire the school she works at happens to be racially divided, making students even more prone to rebellion and recklessness. Instead of abandoning her struggle to reform the pupils, she inspires her students to read, learn, and become responsible. She employs various methods, such as reading about the lives of troubled students. Although parents and teachers often assume that teenagers are supposed to be happy because they have no apparent problems, the movie gives a rather closer view into teenage lives. It shares inspiring lessons regarding racial discrimination, bullying and indifference to one’s own future. The movie also suggests that the social context you live in as a youngster might be unfavourable, but it is up to you to invest your energy in something creative and influence the people around you positively.
“It would be easy to become a victim of our circumstances and continue feeling sad, scared or angry; or instead, we could choose to deal with injustice humanely and break the chains of negative thoughts and energies, and not let ourselves sink into it.”
Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) comes to a public school for a short-term contract and encounters indifferent students who have turned violent, abusive, and disinterested due to a lack of proper attention from parents and administrators at the school. Although Barthes avoids emotional attachments because of his traumatic childhood, he connects with a runaway teenager and impresses his stubborn students with his moving thoughts and ideas. The movie is tragic but it lends several wonderful ideas about life, youth, education, and emotions. Barthes summarises the entire message of the movie in these words, “So to defend ourselves, and fight against assimilating this dullness into our thought processes, we must learn to read. To stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief systems. We all need skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds”.
“We have such a responsibility to guide our young so that they don’t end up falling apart, falling by the wayside, becoming insignificant.”
The Great Debaters (2007)
Set in 1935 Texas, The Great Debaters portrays the real life struggles of Melvin B Tolson (Denzel Washington) to motivate his debate team in the chiefly black Wiley College. He gathers a team of intelligent and devoted black young students, who work hard to win debates until they arrive at being the only black team that challenges Harvard’s respected champions. The movie follows an undertone of racial discrimination and racial politics along with the struggles that the black boys have to go through before they stand up to their so-called white superiors at Harvard. Apart from the story of struggle of students and the inspiring guidance of Tolson, what is wonderful about this movie is the portrayal of different lives confronting conflicted life circumstances.
“Debate is blood sport. It’s combat. But your weapons are words.”