10 Dark Academia Movies For Harry Potter Fans
The Harry Potter the franchise has grown even larger with the release of Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secretson April 8, 2022. The fantastic beasts franchisee, as Harry Potter, proved to be an inspiration to many fans looking for a dark college movie.
Featuring many key themes of dark academia aesthetics, such as mystery, secrets, and social hierarchies, Dumbledore’s secrets is perfect for those seeking escape. These themes can also be found in several other movies, making them great watches for fans of dark colleges and Harry Potter in love alike.
Society of Dead Poets (1989)
Whereas Dead Poets Society came out long before the original Harry Potter movies, it’s a classic noir college movie. It follows the late Robin Williams as Mr. Keating, an English teacher trying to inspire his students to pursue their dreams. The star-studded cast also includes Robert Sean Leonard as Neil Perry and Ethan Hawke as Todd Anderson.
Similar to Harry Potter, this film deals with more mature themes of love, loss, friendship and heartbreak. The focus on school, students, and scholars, amidst the chaos around them, also shows how similar the films are. Arguably one of the first dark academic films of all time, it has the same chemistry and nostalgia as Harry Potter has. The characters of Mr. Keating and Remus Lupin are also remarkably similar, with their good intentions and good hearts. Without saying too much, other characters of Harry Potter are also similar to the characters of Circle of dead poets, almost strangely.
Good Hunting (1997)
Goodwill hunting is another classic movie that follows an underdog lead character that audiences root for, similar to Harry in Harry Potter. A young Matt Damon stars in the film as Will Hunting, a mathematical genius who can solve any problem thrown at him, but struggles with emotions and personal crises in his life.
Also starring the late Robin Williams as Dr. Sean Maguire, Will’s mentor in the film provides the same energy as Albus Dumbledore. He’s a father figure who always has his students’ best interests at heart, even if his way of getting them there isn’t the easiest. It ticks all the boxes for a bittersweet and emotional film, full of lively supporting characters, like Hogwarts students, and the central plot point focusing on the importance of human connection, a theme that is in the heart of all Harry Potter movies too.
The Goldfinch (2019)
Based on the New York Times bestseller by Donna Tartt, The goldfinch is a book-to-movie adaptation full of haunting plots and beautifully complex characters. Ansel Elgort stars as Theodore Decker, a child whose life changes after his mother is killed in a terrorist attack. Theodore Decker finds himself thrust into a world of art theft, criminals, wealth and death.
Like Harry, The goldfinch follows Theodore through his teenage years in his young adult life as he learns valuable life lessons along the way. Although Theodore is not technically an orphan, there are no parental figures in his youth that he can turn to. People come and go and he is forced to decide who to trust. Although a little darker than the Harry Potter movies, the key themes of dark academia are still there, especially with the focus on classic art and literature and Theodore’s affection for those things.
The Riot Club (2014)
Rumored to be based on the stories of the real clubs at Oxford University, this film follows the college life of two new students, Alistair and Miles, trying to fit in at university. They find themselves mistakenly drawn into the mysteries of secret clubs, private schools and the belief that money outweighs all evil.
As this film explores the disagreements of multiple parties in the modern world, it recalls muggles versus wizards in Harry Potter. There’s the element of wanting to do the right thing and fight for the underdogs. It ticks all the dark boxes of academia, from the luxurious and expensive costumes to the haunting feeling that there are bigger secrets at stake. That’s the feeling the viewer gets when they watch the latest Harry Potter movies.
Following the life of JRR Tolkien, one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time, Nicholas Hoult stars as Tolkien in this impactful and emotionally charged film.
Like Harry, Ron and Hermione, Tolkien finds himself integrated into a small group of friends who follow him throughout his years of schooling. It’s full of great scenes and great actors. The central theme of this film is the emphasis on literature. There is a clear connection to black academia through the classic novels written by Tolkien himself, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but there is also a secondary focus on academia and education. Tolkien himself has a great appreciation for literature, something that is repeatedly touched upon throughout the story.
Based on the 1971 book Mauritius by EM Forster, the film adaptation is heartbreakingly beautiful. James Wilby is Maurice Hall, a Cambridge student who struggles to fit into society as he tries to hide his sexuality.
Perhaps another darker recommendation compared to Harry Potter, there’s a very relevant sense of finding his identity throughout, something Harry struggles with throughout the films as well. It’s a quintessential dark college movie, full of appreciation for classic literature, academia, and the arts.
Dorian Gray (2009)
Oscar Wilde’s classic Dorian Gray’s photo gets a reimagining in this fantasy horror movie. Ben Barnes and Colin Firth co-star in this haunting adaptation.
Although there is no explicit mention of magic in Dorian Grey, there is an element of unknown powers at play. Much like in the last Harry Potter movies, something dark has taken hold of Dorian and his wealth is unable to save him from the consequences of his own actions. Given that the film revolves around a painting and the power of art, it’s no surprise that it works incredibly well as a dark academic medium.
Kill Your Darlings (2013)
Perfect for Harry Potter fans, this 2013 film stars the man himself, Daniel Radcliffe. Set in 1994 at Columbia University, we see Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe) meet Lucien Carr, played by Dane DeHaan.
The pair embark on a life of secrets, rebellion, and romance, with a host of incredibly interesting side characters and storylines. As with most of these recommendations, the focus here is on the literature. However, unlike the previous recommendations, this film looks at a new literary movement, which questions the importance of the classics. The revolt against the regime is certainly a plot used in Harry Potter as well, notably Dumbledore’s army.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
This movie gets a special shoutout right away for the costumes, which are still floating around on Pinterest boards and Tumblr accounts to date. Considered a cult classic, the film follows the lives of wealthy and popular teenage girls in New York City as they try to navigate friendship, relationships and romance. However, they soon discover that their actions sometimes have deadly consequences, despite their wealth and popularity.
The characters in this movie look like some characters from Harry Potter, and Draco Malfoy comes to mind, in particular. By placing less emphasis on the arts and literature and more on the social hierarchy of scholars, it recalls the social hierarchy referenced throughout the Harry Potter movies.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the man who cracked the German intelligence code during World War II, in this book-movie adaptation. The imitation game has everything a good British war film has to offer, from scenic landscapes to harsh reminders of the times.
The film feels very British, and while that’s not a key requirement for black academia, it certainly aligns it with Harry Potter. It sparks conversations about British culture and life in another part of society and time, conversations that match those about the muggle world versus the magical world in Harry Potter.
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