Banished to Boarding School
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During the film, we find out that Alex, the oldest King daughter, has been sent away to boarding school for acting out – but she sure isn’t the first difficult child that has been banished to boarding school on film! This Top 10 list will illustrate some other films where boarding school plays a role in the plot, including Flirting, Rushmore and Dead Poet’s Society.
Based on the best-selling novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and set in Hawaii, THE DESCENDANTS is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.
if…. is a 1968 drama about a British boarding school that is known for its severe punishments and the mistreatment of younger students by the older students (the Whips). The film focuses on three “outcast” students who are punished particularly severely at the hands of the Whips, and their eventual plan to retaliate on their oppressors. The films ends in a bloody battle between the outcasts and the rest of the school. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.
.Au Revoir Les Enfants
Au Revoir Les Enfants is a 1987 French film that is based on actual events experienced by writer/director Loius Malle. The film takes place at a French boarding school in 1943. The school’s headmaster has introduced three Jewish students who must hide their true identities in order to evade the Gestapo. The film follows the friendship of one of the Jewish students, Jean Bonnet and another student, Julien Quentin. Eventually, the three Jewish students and the headmaster are captured and taken to concentration camps.
Dead Poet’s Society
Dead Poet’s Society is a 1989 film set in a conservative prep school in Vermont in 1959. John Keating (Robin Williams) is the radical new English teacher at the uptight Welton Academy Prep School. Through his unorthodox teaching methods, like standing on desks and tearing pages out of books, Keating is able to help his students discover and explore their true passions in life, like writing and acting, instead of succumbing to the lives their parents have prescribed for them.
Flirting is a 1991 Australian film set in two different boarding schools in 1965. The film stars Noah Taylor, Thandie Newton and Nicole Kidman as students attending boarding schools across the lake from each one another. Danny (Taylor) meets and falls in love with Thandiwe (Newton), a Ugandan-Kenyan-British girl. The couple is faced with racism and political turmoil, and must meet secretly in order to develop their relationship. Eventually, the couple is forced to separate, with letter writing as their only remaining connection.
School Ties is a 1992 film starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon and Chris O’Donnell. Set in the 1950s, this film is the story of David Greene (Fraser), a Jewish student from Pittsburgh who is given a football scholarship to attend a prestigious prep school in New England. After it is revealed that he is Jewish, David is ostracized from his former friends and anti-Semitism begins to plague the school.
Scent of a Woman
Scent of a Woman is a 1992 drama starring Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell. The film is about a preparatory student (Charlie Simms) who takes a job as an assistant to a cantankerous, blind retired Army officer (Frank Slade). Frank takes Charlie on an extravagant trip to New York City with the intention of committing suicide once the trip has concluded. Charlie convinces Frank not to kill himself, and Frank helps Charlie win a disciplinary hearing at his school. Al Pacino won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.
1998’s Rushmore is the story of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a precocious 15 year-old student at the prestigious Rushmore Academy. Max befriends Herman Blume (Bill Murray), a wealthy industrialist who has two children in school with Max. After Max’s unauthorized and failed attempt to construct an aquarium at the school, he is expelled and forced to attend public school. Following his expulsion, Max and Blume begin battling each other for the affections of first grade teacher Rosemary Cross.
The Emperor’s Club
2002’s The Emperor’s Club stars Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsch, Jesse Eisenberg and Paul Dano. The film focuses on the fictional men’s prep school, St. Benedict’s Academy, in Andover, MA in the mid 1970s. The film tells the story of a passionate Classic professor who encounters a difficult and corrupt student. The film picks up 25 years after the group’s graduation, and shows that the boys continue to learn lessons from their old teacher even into adulthood.
Les Choristes is a 2004 French film that is set in a boarding school for troubled boys in 1949. The film focuses on a new teacher at the school who starts a choir, and helps the boys become happier, better behaved, and find hidden talents. The new teacher also helps expose the atrocities of the cruel headmaster, while nurturing Morhange, a young boy with an amazing voice and a true talent for music.
The Harry Potter Series
As much as we Muggles don’t want to admit it, Hogwarts is, at its core, a boarding school. The film adaptations of the wildly successful series of novels focuses on the titular boy wizard who travels to school to develop his wizarding skills. In the process, Harry and his friends embark on exciting adventures and face many obstacles and dangers, including some not-so-abnormal teen moments, such as asking a girl to a dance, and navigating a new (or in their case ever-changing) building on your first day of classes.
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