A movie night or pre-term preparation?

It was on one of the many occasion when I had shamelessly allowed one film to merge tutorial who was baffled by the not-quite-2000 contributing. And remember what Joel from want to become a Blue, an Oxford Union hack or into another – thanks to Netflix’s dangerous automatic countdown – that I contemplated what life would be like without films. Despite the unopened tabs of historical articles that I should be reading glaring at me, I was able to convince myself that all films were educational and without them I would be lost in a term at Oxford.

Morgan Freeman offers some wise words in The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living, or get busy dying”. I find this straight-talking insightful nugget incredibly reassuring when I realise it is Balliol Bar’s infamous Crazy Tuesday and decide tequila is a really good idea when my deadline is the following morning. Blowing off steam, guzzling some cheesy chips and waking up with a sore head have personally given me the impetus to get the work done. Simply because I want to go back to bed, take some paracetamol and sleep my troubles away. It gets done and I nod appreciatively at the stamp still plastered on my wrist with the knowledge that I am now a legend – albeit a tired, but happy, one.

Admittedly the essay gets done, but it does not mean it always gets done well. If I was deprived of Gene Wilder and his eccentric top hat growing up, I would never have been able to deal with criticism. Willy Wonka assures us that “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” I feel this statement alone can confound the expert in the field sitting opposite you in a tutorial who was baffled by the not-quite-2000 words your handed in. Sharing is caring and surely any ideas, however hair-brained, still count. Throw in some wise nods and a couple of squints whilst tapping your fingers together in contemplation and the illusion is complete. It also dismisses any inner chastising during the feedback when I realise I know very little and my tutor has spied the faint mark of a RETOX stamp on my wrist. Also, let us not forget that Willy Wonka had his own chocolate factory, and let’s face it, it worked out for him.

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As the tutorial progresses, you realise that your bibliography is not as long as it should be. You are sickened by your tutorial partner who is a genius and you feel that, for the sake of common decency, it is their moral obligation to carry you through the impossible questions. Mimicking Vizzini from The Princess Bride cawing ‘inconceivable’ is an excellent tactic in these situations. One word answers, or one word agreements with your tutorial partner’s infinitely superior and perfectly formed retort, can genuinly save the day. You are still tehcnically contirbuting. And remember what Joel from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind taught you: “Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.” Less is definitely more. It is completely legitimate to create a persona for yourself as the quiet, contemplating brooder.

If you managed to resist signing up to anything at OUSU’s Freshers Fair you possess both wisdom and steeliness, and in which case, you must be applauded for ‘outstanding moral fibre’. If, like the rest of us, you are pressured by freebies and happy people quoting Pixar’s Up telling you “adventure is out there” (despite being representatives for the crossword society), you will realise that there is a sizeable chance that by the end of the termyou will look like the love child of Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events and Gollum. Every minute of your day becomes accounted for. However, if I had not have laughed my way through Zoolander, I would never have been inspired by his quest. “I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is. Deciding you want a Blue, an Oxford Union hack or the greatest thespian of the day somehow make the adjectives ‘haggard’, ‘unwell’ and ‘dreadful’ a little easier to bear. Am I right?

It is in my all-time favourite film that I feel the best piece of advice for surviving Oxford can be found. When Joey E Brown turns to an apologetic de-wigged Jack Lemmon at the close of Some Like it Hot and responds with “nobody’s perfect”, the world suddenly comes into perspective. Sure, by Fifth Week everyone is exhausted, grouchy and maybe a little bit quick to defend or offend. If I had never heard Osgood’s up-beat honesty I do believe I would respond to situ- ations negatively and take things a lot more personally. We all find labs confusing, essay word counts impossible and lectures a bit daunting sometimes. We all forget to do our washing, survive on little sleep and sometimes feel like giving up. It is reassuring to remember every one of us is in the same boat, trying to make sense of it all and willing to help each other through. Suddenly, a rainy day in November becomes just that little bit
brighter.