Each year, around this period, we stop and think things through for a minute, and conclude that summer has indeed passed suspiciously fast. Sadness instills itself bit by bit, alongside a short-term sense of nostalgia for all those long and warm June evenings, now oh so far away. No more lounging in the sun all day long, no more of those seaside adventures, and of course, no more camping without packing some really warm clothes to put on come nightfall.
And sure, most of us are probably longing for these things once we can’t have them anymore, and acknowledge that with teary eyes. That’s how human nature works. But human nature is equally known for its amazing adaptive capability, which means that it won’t be long before we fully adapt to the new set of rules, those which govern the autumnal season. Yellow leaves, a grey sky, rain, pumpkins and harvest. And what better way to do it than by cosying up under a blanket, cup of hot tea in hand, and watching some of these 8 films set in similar environments to the one you see unfolding in all its splendour outside? Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Dead Poets Society (1989)
This wonderful film starring the late and great Robin Williams and a young Ethan Hawke is always a pleasure to watch, regardless of how many times you’ve seen it before. Its message is, more or less, understanding the beauty of language and attempting to challenge convention – and all of this is beautifully conveyed in the context of the autumn of 1959. As leaves start wilting away and falling, the new academic years starts, and along with it comes an unconventional pool of knowledge.
2. Good Will Hunting (1997)
The context of Good Will Hunting seems very similar to the one previously described – we’ve got the autumn school semester starting, and we’ve got Robin Williams playing yet another key role as a professor. He’s joined by many other great actors, including Robin Williams, Ben and Casey Affleck, as well as Stellan Skarsgård, in a production which definitely remained in history as one of Gus Van Sant’s masterpieces.
3. Autumn in New York (2000)
It’s clearly an autumn film if its title even starts with the word ‘autumn’. This very definition of an autumn movie, starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder, might have determined split reactions from critics and audiences alike, but it remains quite a reference point, at least for the extremely autumnal atmosphere it conveys, both in real terms, and symbolically, through the character of Charlotte, a terminally-ill young woman.
4. The Village (2004)
It wouldn’t be a complete list relating to the gloomiest season of the year if we didn’t include an M. Night Shyamalan film, would it? And here it is – The Village, which, while it certainly represented a downgrade from his earlier masterpieces such as The Sixth Sense or Signs, retained a very eerie allure about it. While many people were clearly left disappointed by the plot twist, I actually found it very refreshing. With its gorgeous autumnal decor and Oscar-nominated score, The Village is definitely one to enjoy around this time of the year.
5. The Straight Story (1999)
We’ve discussed this film before in the extensive article about David Lynch, and we’d like to reiterate that it is by far the most humane and straightforward film that the famed director has ever worked on. In a lovely autumnal backdrop, an old and ill Alvin decides to undertake a long and difficult trip via his lawnmower in order to mend the relationship with his estranged brother – seasonal symbolism is simple, but very evoking.
6. The Others (2001)
The Others is a rather underrated film directed by Alejandro Amenabar and starring Nicole Kidman in the main role. An old, dark house and a permanent state of grey autumn is the context in which events unfold. While people living in spooky houses generally try to get as much natural light in as possible, the reverse happens in the case of Grace and her photosensitive children – they have to keep everything dark and unlit. It’s a wonderful thriller which, if you’ve somehow missed until now, will spell a real treat for you.
7. Halloween (1978)
Let’s make it clear that we’re referring to the original Halloween here, and none of the cheap and tasteless Rob Zombie revivals of a couple of years ago. Rob Zombie is certainly a great musical artist, but should stick to what he does best – and that’s certainly not making films. The Halloween celebration is undoubtedly one of the highlights of autumn, and this film sums up what it should all be about.
8. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
And let’s end our list just as we began it, with a very humane and inspiring film, this time centred around a juvenile offender who, despite being ridiculed, seeks to impress with his proficiency in running. Moreover, British autumns are perhaps the most evoking iterations of the season in question – they’re gloomy, cold and wet, terribly wet. All wonderfully exhibited here – it’s a worthy watch!