Oxford colleges are known for their quirks, and inspired by these traits, here’s part two of the Cherwell guide to movies that reflect our second homes.
Queens: With its infamous Florey building, a brooding hulk of concrete where freshers feel as if they are being kept against their will by sinister, totalitarian forces, Queens College will understand the inevitable comparison with 1984. Their extremely tight security—it is rumoured that Queenies hide some Big Brother-esque politico-military mastermind in one of their quads—means that the comparison with this screen adaptation of the Orwellian classic makes total sense.
St Hilda’s: Bridge of Spies sees Tom Hanks’ character engineer a person-swap across a bridge in Berlin. The scene in which the exchange occurs represents the incredible cultural contrast between the two halves of Berlin in the 1960s. Likewise, all Oxonians feel as though our neighbours across the Magdalen Bridge come from a different world. Even though colleges like Univ, Merton and Corpus reside a short stroll away, a chance encounter with a Hildonian on the bridge which spans the Thames feels akin to meeting a Berliner from a different part of town.
Keble: When one is walking to the Pitt Rivers, Natural History Museum or University Parks, one stumbles upon a college which may indeed be made out of LEGO. That’s right, this author feels obliged to let the cat out of the bag: you have been deceived, Keble is not made out of Victorian red brick as you have been told, but rather is constructed from 54,895,274 LEGO bricks, so it is only right that it be likened to The LEGO Movie. President Business’ (a.k.a. Will Ferrell) inexplicable insistence on keeping everything as it is via the use of the most unholy of holy super weapons, The Kraggle, reflects ironically Keble’s obsessively competitive sporting attitude. Shame they caught a crab in the women’s Christ Church regatta last Michaelmas. Darn.
St Peter’s: This College’s architectural style continues to baffle this author. A bizarre and incongruent mish-mash of red brick walls, glass facades, concrete monstrosities and ivy-green drainpipes all come together to form St Peter’s College, therefore if it had to be represented as a film Suicide Squad must be it. In DC’s customary summer let down, comic book enthusiasts were left baffled by this 2016 film which juggled awkward humorous dialogue, seven separate plot lines, innumerable villains-who-weren’t-actually-villains, and Will Smith, leaving the viewer walking out with a thoroughly muddled mind. This is also apt as St Peter’s played host to this author’s first tutorial, which also left him needing a stiff drink and a sit down after over an hour of complete mental confusion.
New: Stepping into New is like stepping into a new world: with its unassuming entrance on Holywell Street, all Oxonians are left with their mouths agape as they stroll into a college of Narnia-esque proportions. Consequently, New College must be likened to the yuletide cinematic sensation, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Most casual fans of TLTWATW would assume that this film is the first in The Chronicles of Narnia series. In fact, this accolade falls firstly to Merton and The Magician’s Nephew. Look it up.
Somerville: Somerville’s very own Iron Lady was the main character of a film of the same name, therefore, on the continuing theme of notable political alumni, this college must be compared to the big screen retelling of the career of everyone’s favourite neoliberal of the 80s, Margaret Thatcher (not, unfortunately, Ronald Reagan). Just as most Oxford students will do their utmost to disassociate with the policies of this handbag-wielding, miner-aggravating, non-turning Prime Minister and the film based on her life, so Oxonians too are distanced from Somerville, which is an ungodly 20-minute walk from the Carfax Tower. You have to take too many right turns.