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Museums in Movies

by Nina Chabel

This is that time in the semester when I have a million things to write and a million and one things to read and all I keep thinking about is everything else I wish I was doing instead. So many new exhibits popping up all over the city but I have been stuck in the library these past few weeks, trying to be a good student. Another element of me being a good student that I’m desperately trying to apply this semester is not watching any TV, at all. I do still watch the occasional Grey’s Anatomy episode (what can you do) but it’s been months since I went to the movies or saw a proper good movie from beginning to end! Going to museums and watching movies is a thing I wish I was doing right now so I have compiled a list for you of my favourite movies with museums! Take a break and watch a movie! You deserve it! 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) dir. by John Hughes  

This may be the best movie ever created. Definitely in my top 3. Every time I’m trying to pick a movie to watch and I end up spending over an hour trying to make a decision as I get lost watching old movie trailers on YouTube, I always come back to Ferris Bueller because I know that it’s good and that I won’t be disappointed by the ending.

If you’ve never seen this movie before, you need to watch it immediately! It will most likely change your life or make you forget about finals for the duration of 103 minutes. Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), a quirky funny cool friend, decides to have a last day off before he and his friends graduate high school. Ferris fakes being sick and his caring parents let him stay home from school. Ferris then coaxes his hypochondriac best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) to use his dad’s red convertible and ride around Chicago. After getting Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) out of school, the three friends drive around the city and on their crazy day off they end up at the Art Institute of the Chicago where they join an elementary school tour group and where Cameron ends up looking intently at “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, 1884.  

This movie will make you fall in love with the 80s and make you want to watch all of John Hughes’ films!  

The Vow (2012) dir. by Michael Sucsy 

Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum play a happily married couple who end up in a car accident where Rachel McAdams loses her memory up to the point before she met Channing. Not gonna lie to you, this movie made me cry. But I also love crying during movies. The movie is made up of flashbacks reconstructing Rachel McAdams’ memory before the accident. One of these flashback scenes is their marriage: they got married in a museum! The Art Institute of Chicago to be precise! They are standing in full wedding attires, reciting their vows to each other, surrounded by friends. They are then spotted by security guards who chase them out of the museum (Where they there after hours? Illegally? I need to watch this movie again to remember) and Rachel and Channing along with their friends are seen running up a museum stairway, laughing. The scene ends with Rachel and Channing running underneath what I believe to be “The Gate” (2006), a public sculpture by Anish Kapoor. All in all, this is a feel good romcom which may make you want to get married in a museum, if you’re into matrimony. Rachel’s character is also an artist so there are a few cool artsy scenes where we see her at work!  

How to Steal a Million (1966) dir. by William Wyler 

I remember watching this movie when I was little. I watched it in Russian translation, and this was before I knew who Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole were, so for the longest time I thought this was a Russian movie. Most of the movie is set in a Paris museum, although the museum is not named. Without giving too much of the plot away, this film is about Audrey Hepburn who convinces Peter O’Toole to steal the Cellini Venus sculpture, a forgery which her father lent to the museum and inadvertently signed a contract which consented to the examination of the sculpture, which would reveal that it is a fake. And so to save her father from jail, Audrey along with Peter decide they will steal the sculpture. If you haven’t seen an Audrey Hepburn movie before, this is going to be a perfect introduction: a romantic heist comedy movie I highly recommend you watch!

When in Rome (2010) dir. by Mark Steven Johnson 

If you haven’t guessed it yet by reading about the movies that are slowly starting to shape this list, I love romantic comedies! I don’t care if they’re cheesy, I love cheese! And romance and laughter and museums! I am also a little bit obsessed with New York City. I have never been to NYC (what!?) and all the movies/books/tv shows/culture that I have consumed about this city led me to mythologize it. I’m almost too scared to visit because I am afraid of being disappointed. Why am I writing about New York City when the title of this movie is “When in Rome”? Well because the main character, Kristen Bell, is a museum curator at the Guggenheim (dream job!)! The movie does however start with her being in Rome, attending her sister’s wedding, where she meets Josh Duhamel and sparks fly! Back in the Big Apple, Josh and Kirsten keep running into each other and you know what that means: they are going to inevitably fall in love by the end of the movie. There’s this wonderful scene when they’re alone in the Guggenheim and Kristen is telling Josh about Picasso’s affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter. This scene really frames Walter and Picasso but after reading a few entries from Marie-Thérèse Walter’s Wikipedia page, their love story was not that great. Nonetheless, “When in Rome” is a feel-good-silly-romantic-comedy-where-you-know-they’ll-end-up-together where Kristen’s character is a strong successful art curator who falls in love!

Copenhagen (2014) dir. by Mark Raso  

The only thing I love more than romantic comedies are coming of age films! Sometimes I feel like I’m in a coming of age film. This past year everyone I’ve met has been a little bit obsessed with Copenhagen and its bike lanes and furniture. I was kind of indifferent about Copenhagen until I read “The Little Book of Hygge” (read it! it will change your life!). It’s now on my Cities to Visit list! Anyways, while trying to come up with movies I’ve seen to add to this list I remembered “Copenhagen”! This movie is about a very obnoxious young guy named William who is travelling through Europe and ends up in Copenhagen, the birth city of his father and is trying to reconnect with his roots. While doing that, he strikes up a friendship with Effy, a cool young girl who lies about her age and ends up being William’s translator and guide while he’s trying to uncover information about his family history. There’s this one scene in the movie where Effy bring him to a history museum and tells him she’s a vampire, and to prove that she’s a vampire she shows him this female bust that looks eerily like her. A super cool scene filled with tension and also a very cool trick to try next time you bring your date to the museum, but only if you can find a work of art that looks like you, otherwise it won’t work! Needless to say I have been obsessed with trying to find a work of art that looks like me, alas the search is still on!

Bande à Part (1964) dir. by Jean-Luc Godard and The Dreamers (2003) dir. by Bernardo Bertolucci 

The famous running through the Louvre scene. You know the one. I first saw it in “The Dreamers” and wasn’t aware that it was a recreation until I saw the superimposed black and white clips from “Bande à Part” in Bertolucci’s film. These two movies are quite different from each other but both have three main characters who are up to no good and both films are art pieces on their own. I wonder if people today try running through the Louvre. I want to do that. 

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