The return. It’s probably the central theme of September in Hanover, when old friends reunite to embrace the world’s troubles as their own … or just settle down into that glorious college routine of studying, eating, partying and sleeping, in no particular order. But Dartmouth is unique because it extends this welcome of a return to freshmen as well as seasoned students. I’ll never forget walking to Robinson Hall before Trips, a nervous wreck – I had gotten out of that ominous-sounding Hiking 1, but what if everyone on Nature Writing and Painting possessed artistic genius? – until I noticed the white banner hung over Collis porch with the reassuring message, “Welcome Home.”
However, freshman fall still challenges. Whether you’re stuck in the stacks due to your foolish enrollment in an infamous Writing 5 class that shall remain unnamed, like me, or you fully embrace the basement culture with your nearest friendly ‘shmob, adjusting is tough business. Most of the time, with everyone trying so hard to find their place (it is a truth universally acknowledged that only a small number of people look good in flair), the term feels less like a return than being the new kid at a middle school summer camp.
However, one place on campus always restored me, and I’d like to extend that bit of wisdom to the ‘16s (and to returning students as well). As you probably guessed, that place is the movie theater. There’s something immeasurably comforting about sitting down in a plush seat as the lights dim and allowing a story to dissolve the petty frustrations of day. Try worrying about that chemistry lab while the mafia destroys Michael Corleone’s humanity — that could happen to any of us, so you might as well stop fretting the insignificant stuff.
Moreover, Dartmouth offers an incredible selection — I cannot stress this enough — of films given the size of our school and our remote location. Just this term, students have the opportunity to watch films from both the Telluride Film Festival and the New York Film Festival before they enter theaters. Instead of traveling to some obscure independent cinema and paying an exorbitant price for admission, you can pop into Spaulding Auditorium, the Loew Auditorium, or the new screening room in the Black Family Visual Arts Center in a few minutes from anywhere on campus. I’ve seen so many great films at Dartmouth on a whim after dinner. You pay $5 (get the student passes if you see more than three a term and it’s even cheaper) to see world-class films in a familiar environment, constituting mental therapy cheaper than a large latte at King Arthur Flour Cafe. Don’t pass that opportunity up — go see Gael García Bernal in “No,” Oliver Assayas’ follow-up to the critical smash “Carlos,” “Something in the Air,” and Anders Danielsen Lie’s indelible performance in “Oslo, August 31st.”
Meanwhile, Dartmouth Film Society has scheduled a comprehensive list for its Fall term series with the fitting theme “The Return,” focusing on characters confronting the past. Like heading back to school, a trip to the movies is a return to the refuge you’ve frequented since you were little. I could go in-depth about every film on DFS’s list, but below I’ve assembled a checklist of the major films from the series to see if you can. Dartmouth is a busy place, but if you’ve got time, check out these titles:
1) “The Godfather Part II” (1974), Sept. 23: Go see Francis Ford Coppola’s timeless classic on the big screen in Spaulding. Join the debate on whether the original or the sequel is better.
2) “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), Oct. 5: One of my favorite movies of all time (and Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite of his own films), “Shadow of a Doubt” is a dark labyrinth of lost innocence peculiar in its heavily censored wartime context. “Do you know the world is a foul sty?”
3) “American Graffitti” (1973), Oct. 13: Almost every teen movie after George Lucas’ classic has been an imitation.
4) “The Intouchables” (2011), Oct. 20: The movie that broke box office records in France (displacing “Titanic” (1997)) is sure to be a heavyweight in the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards this year (though many of us are mourning France didn’t choose the vastly superior “Rust and Bone” (2012)).
5) “Warrior” (2011), Nov. 10: A criminally underrated film from last year featuring two rising thespians, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, as well as a fine return to form for Nick Nolte.
Also recommended: “Your Sister’s Sister” (2011) on Sept. 22, “The Queen of Versailles” (2012) on Sept. 28, “Safety Not Guaranteed” (2012) on Sept. 28, “Tell No One” (2006) on Oct. 6 and “A History of Violence” (2005) on Nov. 11.
Tags: cinema, film, movie, movies, telluride