Oxford is well known for its ability to capture the imagination, with authors such as Evelyn Waugh and Max Beerbohm taking it as a setting for their novels. So too have film-makers gravitated towards the dreaming spires to bolster the production value of their creations. No Harry Potter here: read on for some less magical, but no less effective, offerings.
Shadowlands (1993) tells the tale of CS Lewis, who is known best for his Chronicles of Narnia; his day to day was the academic life at Oxford, as a fellow and tutor in English Literature at Magdalen College. The film focuses on his relationship with American poet Joy Davidman, and his reckoning with his Christian faith on her diagnosis with cancer.
A strong crowd favourite is the The History Boys, an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play, which follows eight bright but naughty young students staying on at school for the extra Oxbridge entrance examination term (now obsolete). The city and a few of the colleges feature when the boys visit the university for their interviews.
Oxford has also, rather surprisingly, played host to a number of Bollywood films: most recently Mohabbatein (2000), which deals with forbidden love between neighbouring boys’ and girls’ schools, and Bhagam Bag (2006), about an acting troupe who unwittingly entangle themselves in the drug underworld when the search for a “heroine” for their latest play is misunderstood.
If you’re looking for another way to get to know the city and its reception in culture, check out one (or perhaps all―it is summer, after all) of these films!