Movies for Your College Major

Giancarlo Messina

The 2021-2022 school year is coming to an end and seniors are beginning to count down the days until graduation the final step before starting an entirely new journey of discovering potential career paths that will lead to success. A lot of the time teens discover their passion or dream through the media they consume, whether that be movies, television, or music. Now that many graduating seniors are going off to college, this summer may be a good time to watch some movies that relate to different  majors. Below are seven movies chosen based on seven popular areas of study in college. While these movies won’t replace a semester’s worth of learning, they can be ensuring movies to watch in such a stressful and confusing time for those getting ready to enter their first year.

Wolf of Wall Street – Business                                                                     

There are many lessons to be learned from the success and failures behind Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street. The movie is based on a memoir written by the real Jordan Belfort, a former stockbroker that went to prison for 22 months because of corruption and manipulation connected to investing. In the movie viewers can see his rise in Wall Street, and how he used his advanced salesmanship skills and knowledge of business to make it to the top. While Belfort was very successful in many ways, and there is a lot that can be learned from his success, his career should not be glorified. Rather students studying this field should watch this movie to learn more from his mistakes. While his manipulation of investing originally resulted in his rich and living a lavish lifestyle, it also goes against all business ethics, and is what ultimately led to his downfall. In addition to destroying his career, he also let money change his morals and values, revealing the shadier side of the business world.

Gattaca – Biology

While none of the technology presented in the 1997 science-fiction film Gattaca is scientifically accurate, there are many elements of modern biology that play a key role to its world building. The movie takes place in what is referred to as the “not-too distant future” which, considering the film came out in 1997, could very likely mean that it occurs anywhere between the year 2000 to present. In the future presented in the film, technology uses genetic engineering to predetermine the genetic outcome of a newborn child, in order to make humans more advanced. When the protagonist, Vincent, is born without the use of this technology he becomes prone to a deadly heart condition. Due to his “undesirable” traits, he is prevented from ever pursuing his dream of becoming an astronaut. The movie explores how the use of this genetic science can lead to a form of eugenics, in which people are discriminated against because of their genetic makeup. The idea of predetermining the genetics of a child is one that is as prevalent today as it was in 1997, which is why this movie would be perfect for any student wishing to study biology. 

The Truman Show – Psychology                                                                                                                   

There are many psychological factors behind the actions of the main character, Truman Burbank, in The Truman Show that would be interesting to analyze for a psych student. In the movie, Truman lives a pretty normal life as an insurance salesman, but in reality his whole life has been set up for him, as he discovers that his entire life has been broadcasted as a reality tv show. In a way, Truman’s entire life can be seen as a psychological experiment, as he was trapped in a bubble and presented with a society that he had to conform to. When he eventually figures out the truth behind his life, the audience sees the emotional distress that it causes him as he loses any and all perception of reality. There is also a psychological condition that branches from Schizophrenia, referred to as “The Truman Show delusion.” This is when people believe their life is a part of some elaborate storyline in a movie or television show. There are many different psychological viewpoints in which the themes of The Truman Show can be analyzed.

The Matrix – Computer Science

For computer science majors, The Matrix is an essential watch, even though the film is heavily rooted in science fiction and many of the programs within the film are beyond reality. Like many other pieces of science fiction the film’s main theme relates to the dangers of technology, and how it relies on human nature. The Matrix presents a world where technology has taken over, and our lives are run by a system of codes. It is a film that represents society’s growing curiosity over AI technology, and the fear that we may one day become reliant on that technology. Outside of the matrix, the machines use humans to harvest an energy source when they are plugged into the matrix. This shows that even though technology can have the power to take influence over our lives, it cannot exist without us. While The Matrix does not present any real world functions of computer science, its food for thought on the complex ideas of man and machine will without a doubt peak the interest of anyone going into a computer science major.

Dead Poets Society – Education

When it comes to education majors, no movie represents the heart and purpose of education more than Dead Poets Society. John Keating, an english teacher at Welton school, shows how departing from the traditional ways of teaching can lead to more engagement from the students. Welton is like many schools in America, where the true purpose of education is not to fulfill the lives of the young and inspired students, but to rather beat the student over the head with tests and grades, so they can hopefully get into a good college. Welton’s expression of carpe diem, or seize the day, is one that reinforces the idea that having a positive attitude towards life is just as important of a lesson as one you would find in a textbook. When he tells the students to remove the page of the poetry book that looks at poetry in a mathematical way, he is telling them to remove any limitations that may be set on their creativity and individuality. The way that Keating gets all of his students to enjoy learning should be viewed by an aspiring teacher. 

Amadeus – Music

For those that choose to study music in any form, the 1984 biographical drama Amadeus, based on the life of Amadeus Mozart, would be a great watch. Not only will you get to hear the timeless music that influenced generations after it, but you will also get to see how Mozart has devoted his life to his craft. For many, one of the main takeaways from the movie is seeing Amadeus in a more natural light, as he never took anything too seriously, and was often pompous and immature. His behavior is in direct contrast to that of Salieri, another key character in the movie. Salieri is a strict catholic who admires Mozart’s work, but is disgusted when he sees who he is as a person. Both are equally devoted to music, but Salieri always lived in Mozart’s shadow. This reveals another important theme of the film, and it relates to how competition can affect one’s life. Salieri’s obsession with Mozart turns him into a brooding figure, one that can never be happy with his success because he is too focused on ruining the career of another musician. Every musician should learn to avoid any form of competitive behavior that will negatively influence your perception of yourself and your work.  

Spotlight – Communications

For those that want to study communications, no film has emphasized the importance of investigative journalism like the Oscar-winning Spotlight. The movie follows a team of Boston journalists that uncover the hidden accounts of abuse and pedophilia within the Catholic church. The movie is based on a true story, and is a good way for aspiring journalists to see how the process works, and the good that their work can do. All of the journalists within the film show fearlessness and determination when interviewing their suspects. They are able to retrieve useful information through their clever tactics. The movie displays just how important journalism is in revealing the truth to the public. Over 90 priests were revealed to have allegations of abuse in the article released by the Boston Globe, and the article helped more people to come out with their allegations against the church. Any future communications major can learn from the Spotlight team and their willingness to uncover the truth.