Film & TV

Freshers: Films and TV About Transition

Laura Vaabel on Gavin and Stacey

Watching Gavin and Stacey whilst moving to Cardiff for university is a stereotype, I have no doubt about that. But although it’s primarily a comedy, there was something oddly comforting about the plot during my first few weeks of fresher’s year. The comedic way in which Stacey’s homesickness is presented relaxed me because it was so easily relatable for me. I found a lot of similarities between myself and Stacey when she first moves away from her hometown of Barry (coincidentally a neighbouring town of Cardiff!).

This transitional period from sixth form/college to university is usually most student’s first time away from their homes and families. Most students are ambushed by the local nightlife and the freshers hype, but some find themselves like Stacey, not quite in the party mood and just wanting some home comforts… maybe an omelette.

Series 3 of the TV show throws in some of the funniest culture shocks that almost anyone would notice when shipping themselves off over the borders and into Wales. From the lack of football being played and the popularity of rugby to common sayings. I don’t think I know anyone anymore who doesn’t do their university assignments “now in a minute.”

A favourite episode of mine involves a night out in Cardiff that Gavin and Stacey have, simply because it shows that even though the night might be completely different from what you might be used to at home, they all still end up having a cracking time there! Moving to university is a huge step for everyone and a big deal after the slow pace of school life. I found Gavin and Stacey does just take away the scary nature of it all. It’s an easy watch and mocks the changes that everyone, even adults, have when moving away from their comfort zones.

Sai on The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club is not only an old film you have to have seen; it is also one of those old films that somehow stays relevant. At first the 1985 film’s story seems quite simple: five students meet in Saturday detention. What makes the movie so interesting, however, is how it is built up. The audience receives fairly little guidance or narration, and therefore watches the events unfurl at the same time as the characters do.

The premise is obviously striking in itself. The five students in detention cannot be more different. Throughout the movie however, both the characters as well as the audience discover, that there is more to everyone, and that ultimately all these students have something in common. Claire, who first appears to be “basic” and stuck up has issues with peer pressure, the nerdy Brian contemplated suicide over the pressure he feels over grades, jock Andrew doesn’t really know what he wants, goth Allison is a compulsive liar and the rebellious John comes from an abusive household.

By slowly finding out about these mostly hidden parts of their personalities, the characters bond and help each other, highlighting both issues in society as well as somewhat the school system at the time.

The reason I consider this a transitional film is because by growing up – often by moving out and having to basically be responsible for yourself when you get to university – one will most likely come across similar situations, or have to go through rattling with one’s own issues. The film shows that it is important to keep in mind that a lot of other people have similar issues even if they don’t show them, and that friends come from unexpected corners. So, feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed and alone when being practically thrown into university is OK, and it will get better, it will work out.

Ella Clucas on Lion

When we think of transitions in film and television we often dive straight into coming-of-age, young adult fiction; stories of lost virginities, high school dramas and college dreams coming true. These are the stories we gravitate to as ones we can all understand, but transitions themselves are more than just the jump from teenager to adult. They are moments of change, both expected and unpredictable, that shape our lives and guide our sense of self. Adapted from a true story told through Saroo Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home, Lion (2016) follows Saroo, who is played by the ever versatile Dev Patel, from his childhood in India through to his adult life in Australia. The Oscar nominated and BAFTA award winning film depicts real issues facing India today, with a sharp focus on the epidemic of lost children, of which Saroo becomes one. After losing his brother in the busy railway stations of their hometown, a five-year-old Saroo finds himself on a long distance freight train that takes him hundreds of miles from his village, his family and everything he has ever known. Facing legitimate threats such as homelessness, child trafficking and starvation, Saroo is eventually pulled off the streets by an organisation for lost children, and is put up for adoption. Over 20 years later, he remains in Australia without any recollection of the traumatic events of the past. Yet he begins to feel that something is missing. In Lion, we watch Saroo rediscover his roots as he retraces his Indian childhood purely through his own fragmented memory. Though he has been given a new life that fulfills the ideals of Western culture, Saroo is instinctively drawn back to his origins, despite not even knowing what they are. Whilst Saroo’s story is not the relatable young adult transition we identify with, it does present a shift from one version of life to another, demonstrating a journey of self-discovery and a need to stay true to oneself. In this way, Lion depicts an internal transition, one aided by the happenings of life and leading to inevitable change.