Cambridge University hits international cinema screens

Ruairi O'Donoghue 7 November 2013

Next year’s box office is set to be a significant one for the University of Cambridge, as three films will be released about Cambridge academics. How to Make Love like an Englishman, starring Pierce Brosnan, is a largely fictional account of a generic Cambridge poetry professor. The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are biopics of real Cambridge dons, Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking respectively.

Over the summer students were able to audition as extras for the film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne. Universal Extras held the open auditions in August at the Art School Lecture Theatre. In contrast, How to Make Love like an Englishman, based around a complicated love triangle, is set in Los Angeles. Cambridge students will therefore be unable to film next to the likes of Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek.

Mayukh Mukhopadhyay, a second year studying at King’s College, stated that he “couldn’t wait  for this exciting rom-com with my favourite actor of all time–Brosnan, whom I loved as Bond!”

The Imitation Game features Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch and Charles Dance. It traces the life of King’s alumnus Turing from his work at Bletchley Park to his eventual death, treated as suicide by the coroner. Yet the film has been beset by criticism from Andrew Hodges, a biographer of Turing whose work forms the basis of the film. He believes that several scenes in the film are fictitious and that the film also seeks to overplay Turing’s relationships with women.

Steven Connor, an English professor at Peterhouse, told TCS, “Cambridge has recently been more culturally interesting than Oxford because Cambridge is more ambivalent being the centre of the establishment but with spying and treachery. It has more high- profile figures because of its twentieth- century scientific pre-eminence.

“The city is also more photogenic, in a rus-in-urbe kind of way (cattle grazing in the centre of the town). Where Oxford consists of colleges that are hidden away, with shimmers of lawn glimpsed through Alice in Wonderland squinny-holes in the middle of a rather boring, clamorous, home counties town, Cambridge’s architectural glories sprawl more open to the eye.”