Surprised by Oxford (2023) Movie Script

[dramatic music]
[inspirational music]
[wind blowing]
[birds chirping]
[bell tolling in distance]
[horse clopping]
[music continues]
Full disclosure,
when I charted
the course of my life
and set off
for the distant horizon,
this isn't exactly
what I had in mind.
Aristotle had this idea,
that man is teleological.
We're driven by a goal, a telos.
For as long as I could remember,
my destination
was never in question.
I knew exactly
where I was going.
Or so I thought.
But that was before Oxford.
That was before
everything changed.
You understand this is a highly
coveted program, Carolyn.
One of the defining
characteristics of our students
is ambition,
a sense of a higher calling.
Tell us, Carolyn,
what do you want most in life?
[young Carolyn]
My teacher says
the problem is unsolvable.
Well, clearly she doesn't know
who she's dealing with.
But what if I can't do it?
I don't know any other kid
that read the Iliad at seven.
Six. The Odyssey at seven.
You've been given a gift, kiddo.
Knowledge is power.
[gentle music]
Mark it out.
-["Christmas Eve In My Home
Town" by Eddie Fisher]
-And there were carols...
Okay, ready.
Laughter everywhere
Couples kissing
under the mistletoe
I can't help reminiscing
-[man talking indistinctly
over the phone]
-Knowing I'll be missing
-Christmas Eve
in my hometown
No. No!
[loud clatter]
...can erase
Memories I embrace
Those familiar...
In one moment,
my entire world imploded.
-There's so much...
-The father I knew,
-the man I trusted
with my life...
-[loud heartbeat]
...was an elaborate
work of fiction.
Local businessman Charles Drake
was arraigned today
on multiple felony charges.
While Mom prayed the rosary,
I moved on from childish things.
There was no
mystical intervention.
Only knowledge.
Can you think of a time
when you wanted to click
your ruby slippers and go home?
The slippers are silver,
not ruby.
They're silver in the book,
ruby in the movie.
Doesn't matter
what color they are.
Unless, like the movie,
you want to ignore
the obvious political allegory
at the heart of the novel.
It's clearly a debate
with the gold standard,
hence the silver slippers.
It's a fable. Okay?
-About politics
in the early 20th century.
-That's enough. Thank you.
-But we're talking
about the book.
So if you asked me
about my higher calling,
what I wanted most in life,
I could say
with full confidence...
A doctorate.
[inspirational music]
I doubled down.
I was the consummate
I breezed through high school
without breaking a sweat.
As Swinburne said,
"Glory to man in the highest
for man is master of things."
That was not a part
of the assigned reading list.
What do you want me to say?
With Dad out of the picture
and Mom back to work full-time,
we were barely scraping by.
So I picked up the slack.
And, and a Dr Pepper's.
The parmesan thing is ours.
-Okay. Uh, anything else, guys?
-Couple of things come to mind.
[indistinct chatter]
College came in the form
of a full undergraduate
so long as I maintained
straight As in all courses
every year for four years.
[loud pop music]
[indistinct shouting]
In short, Donne's Holy Sonnet 14
is a classic subversion
by the dominant patriarchy,
whether it be the church
or the male construction of God,
of the threat posed
by maternal power
or the feminine spiritus.
Thank you.
Impressive as usual.
You presented
a thoughtful analysis
of the poem.
But if I may be so bold,
it, it struck me
as a grand adventure,
and you're missing the point.
Oh, sorry, I'm confused.
Donne is saying that anything
without eternal significance...
...uh, is ultimately
doomed to futility.
The truth i--
is in the paradox. Hmm?
Everything else is bullshit.
-Carol, what I'm saying to you
is your purpose in life... to discern the,
the real...
...from the bullshit.
[gentle music]
Fortis est veritas.
The truth is strong.
Of course, you know your Latin.
You know many things.
"But he that increaseth
knowledge increaseth sorrow."
Am I right?
The truth, indeed... strong, Carol.
And you will know when you are
properly ravished by it.
As our friend, Mr. Donne,
so eloquently put it.
[indistinct chatter on TV]
[laughter on TV]
[music continues]
This is a letter
from the University of Oxford.
[Carolyn's mom]
What does it say?
It says I won a scholarship.
When did you apply
for a scholarship?
It was Dr. Deveaux's idea.
But I thought
it was a long shot.
"Meritorious scholarship
awarded on the basis
of outstanding academic merit."
-I need to think.
-"A full ride to Oxford."
-What is there to think about?
I'm just in shock.
You have every right
to be in shock. This is big.
[chuckling] I'm so proud of you.
It took me about
five seconds to decide.
I was going to Oxford, England,
-for my postgraduate studies.
-Okay, well, let's start
with these papers here.
and mingling allowance."
-What does mingling entail?
-[Carolyn] I was on track
to get my master's degree
in English literature.
But it was up to me
to decide what period
I wanted to focus on.
I landed
on the Romantic writers,
known for their poetic feeling
and longing for the infinite.
[inspirational music]
The University of Oxford
is not one college.
It's made up
of 38 self-governing colleges
and six private halls.
I was assigned
to Tirian College,
which is roughly 400 years
older than America.
The school year is divided
into three terms.
Michaelmas, Hilary, and Trinity.
[deeply exhales]
[birds chirping]
[deeply exhales]
So I set off
into the great unknown...
...sane and unhaunted...
...and driven
by a singular desire.
[inspirational music increases]
[sheep bleating]
Last stop, Oxford.
-Last stop, Oxford.
Oh, sorry.
[man grunting]
Bloody hell.
[sighs] What you got
in there? Bricks?
Uh, sorry. Do you know
where Tirian College is?
Uh, no.
But you throw
a rock around here,
and you'll hit a college.
[engines rumbling]
[inspirational music]
[bird chirping]
[bell tolling in distance]
[indistinct chatter]
[door opens]
Shit. [sighs]
Mm. [exhales]
Those doors, they were built
in the 14th century
to keep invaders at bay.
Or at the very least,
to trip them up on the way in.
-Carolyn Drake.
-Oh, Drake!
Postgrad. English.
-I'm impressed.
-I'm the porter.
It's my job to know,
and it's my pleasure to know.
Mm-mm. Uh, oh.
[soft clatter]
Staircase five, room seven.
-[both chuckle]
-Welcome to Tirian.
[soft rattling]
[wind blowing]
[sighs and whispers]
All right. Oh!
Staircase seven, room five.
No. Staircase five, room seven.
-[heavily breathing]
Bloody hell is Penny?
Um, sorry.
I... don't know who Penny is.
She's the accommodation manager.
I've got a faulty showerhead,
-the most uneven spray--
-I'm really sorry to hear that.
Did you... just get here now?
Yeah. Sorry. Uh, Carolyn.
-Edward. Sorry, sorry.
[awkwardly chuckles]
-Oh, God.
-Would it be possible to have
a shower in your room?
-I really don't think
-we're at that point
in the relationship.
-Hey. Well, neighbors.
So, um, I'll be sure
to keep you down at night.
You know,
frequent lodgers... [sighs] the Edwardian Palace.
Oh, God. Okay. Yeah, I,
uh, I really appreciate that.
Thanks so much.
The more the merrier, I say.
[door closes]
[sighs] Lovely.
[vice chancellor]
Ladies and gentlemen,
it is my great pleasure
as Vice Chancellor to admit you
as members
of the University of Oxford.
I consent to you that
you are now listed as members
and must observe
the university's statutes
in so far as they concern you.
And if I may impart some advice,
you have before you
a period of freedom
-in which to pursue
your chosen...
-...field of study.
It is a rare
and coveted privilege.
So do make the very most
of your time here.
Good luck to you all.
[inspirational music]
[indistinct chatter]
First time in the UK?
-What gave it away?
-The stars in your eyes.
I'm Hannah.
Carolyn. Caro.
[soft pouring]
You can come a little closer.
I'm not gonna bite, love.
Oh, but I might.
Oh. O-- okay. [chuckle]
[chuckles] Pardon me.
Thanks, guys. [chuckle]
I'll just take that-- [mumbling]
You don't happen to have
a spare plate, do you?
[speaking Latin]
Regina Knight.
First female provost of Tirian.
Only took several centuries.
-[all] Amen.
[indistinct chatter]
So what do you plan to do
with a degree
in Indian Religion?
My hope is to open
a charity one day.
But in the meantime,
I plan to go back to Kolkata.
There's a mission there
and they're always looking
for help at the orphanage.
What about you?
...I suppose I'll be braving
the violent waters of academia.
Have your sights set
on the high table, do you,
Professor Carolyn?
[choir singing]
[bell tolling]
-[Father] I believe in God...
-...believe in God...
...the Father, the Almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth,
and in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, Our Lord.
Who was conceived
by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
[paper rustling]
She has a habit
of rearranging things
when I'm not looking.
Been doing it for years,
the saucy minx.
Amelia Kantor.
And the delicate equilibrium
is restored.
Take a seat.
[loudly] Take a seat!
Today begins what I hope will be
an enlightening study
of the women
Romanticist writers.
Good God. Is, is the sun
beating down on your face
inside the room?
-[softly chuckles]
-Despite being repressed
by a male-dominant society,
these writers produced work
that continues to inspire
and provoke today.
Well, Romance isn't
just going to happen
if you keep your books shut.
Open, open, open them,
my little roses, my... thorn.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
Let's begin.
[indistinct chatter]
[horn distantly honking]
[Hannah softly]
Professor Rutledge
is infamously superstitious.
Bit of a spiritualist,
I've heard.
Who is Amelia Kantor, anyway?
She was a student here
in the '40s.
In the what?
In the '40s.
No, no, no, no. No, no,
no, no, no. No, no, no.
We have a strict no-ink policy.
-The books must be protected
at all costs.
-If you must use ink,
you must use the ink station.
-Okay, yeah. I didn't know
-that there was--
-I am assuming that
since you've been accepted
into this hallowed
place of learning,
you have managed to master
the basic principles
of reading and writing. Mm?
In which case you will see,
in black and white,
the rules,
which are perfectly clear.
So if you would kindly put
the offensive weapon
back in its holster
and out of harm's way...
We can all live
to write another day.
Yes? Very good.
Thank you. Very good.
[all softly chuckling]
[upbeat music]
[indistinct chatter
and laughter]
-Are you gonna read that
all night?
-If I have to.
But you're missing out
on this great party.
Yeah, it's a real rager.
Drink up, ladies.
-[Carolyn] What is it?
-Buck's fizz.
-Looks like you're in.
-I think it's about time
Dr. Drake loosened up.
I second that notion.
Just one drink.
Cheers, ladies.
[gentle music playing]
I guess I do understand,
actually, why it's so important,
-because those books
are priceless.
-[man] Mm-hmm.
And I-- what if one of them
got damaged, you know?
What, what, what happens then?
And McGrath was a compromise.
And there was just thos--
Oh, my God.
Oh, my God,
how long have I been talking?
[chuckles] Uh, a good while now.
Oh, your, your friends,
they, um, signaled to you
before they left.
Uh, uh... signaled?
Yeah, they went, um--
Like that.
-Oh, God, I gotta go.
Where's my bag?
-Uh, your bag...
-Where's my bag? right here.
-That, that's my bag.
-Whoa. Okay.
-No, no, no, no, no. Shit, shit.
-It's fine, it's fine.
I got it. It's fine.
-I think we can leave that.
That's fine.
-It's fine.
I, I should
walk you back, right?
I... [sighs] I'm fine.
Are you sure?
-I'm gonna get my coat.
Your mom, have you talked to her
since you got here?
-What do you know about my mom?
-Well, quite a bit, actually.
You were going on and on
and on... and on.
Okay. Stupid buck fuzz.
Well, I don't have the...
[hiccups] international... plans. Yeah.
-Y-- you don't have
international phone plans.
You have a computer though.
You could probably
use that, right?
It's old.
How old?
It's, like, this thick.
That's pretty old.
Yeah. I'm not particularly...
[hiccups] tech-savvy.
-Books are my thing.
-Yeah, mine too.
I could help you out
with your computer
if you'd like.
I don't need your help.
Okay. It's optional.
So... this is you.
I'm not inviting you
into my room.
Okay. Um, I guess
I'll see you at breakfast.
I'll see you at lunch.
Who are you, anyway?
-TD what?
-TDH. Tall, dark and handsome.
-You left out annoying.
Yes, you seemed very annoyed
at being lost in his eyes. Hmm.
Good afternoon.
Um...'re Hannah?
-[man] And Linnea, right?
I'm Kent.
Uh, so I found
this copy of Waverly
in a pitcher of buck's fizz.
I've tried to dry it out
as best I could,
but most of the pages,
they're still stuck together.
-I'm sorry.
Also, I am free tomorrow.
For your computer.
Right. No, that's,
uh-- I'm fine.
No, that's all right.
I got time.
Say, 11:00?
Uh, I need to,
I need to check my schedule--
-She's free.
-She would love to.
Okay. Great. I'll see you,
chapel quad, 11:00 a.m.
Oh, and it was nice
to see you guys again.
See you.
What is that?
-His room.
-[chuckles] Mm.
Oh, for the love of God,
can somebody just please
hand me an aspirin?
[sharply exhales]
So that's how I landed
in Political Science.
So strange to think
it's my last year.
What are you reading?
You're reading English, right?
Uh, yeah.
[light rock music playing]
Yeah. You want some more coffee?
Um, okay.
Let me see. Yeah, still warm.
[coffee pouring]
-[cell phone vibrates]
I don't have any milk,
as you know, but..., I really have to go out
and get some cream or milk.
[coffee pouring]
I mean, it's pretty good.
-I don't have a fridge, so...
Oh. Are you going somewhere?
Um... [clears throat]
yeah, yeah.
I just, you know, I just,
I just remembered that--
I told Linnea I was gonna,
I was gonna, um,
do something
with her today, and I...
-...completely forgot that
it was this, this, this th--
-Are you sure you're okay?
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And thank you so much
for your assistance.
[door closes]
My assistance?
Oh, holy shit.
-Oh, my God. I am so sorry.
You're in an awful hurry,
Miss Drake.
I'm Regina Knight.
I, I-- Yes. Yeah,
I mean, I, I, I know.
I'm so very happy
to have you here at Tirian.
Perhaps we can talk
more at length sometime.
Uh, that would be great.
Until then.
[bird chirping]
Oh, my God.
[footsteps running]
-Three, two, and time.
-...wait, wait, wait, wait, I--
Of all the antecedents
to the great Romantic writers,
Sir Walter Scott
is perhaps the most renown.
I am a descendant
of this great literary mind,
a fact of which I am most proud.
-Let us look at his poem,
-[sighs and mumbles]
The Lay of the Last Minstrel,
which arguably introduced
Romanticism to the world.
"Breathes there a man
with soul so dead,
but never to himself
hath said, 'This is my own... native land'."
[door closes]
[Professor Nuttham]
Would it be wishful thinking
to assume that some of you
have learned the first 83 lines
of Paradise Lost by heart?
You are studying
the Romantics, are you not?
And you cannot hope
to understand them
without John Milton.
True, he predates Blake,
Wordsworth and Coleridge
by a hundred years,
but his shadow looms over them.
And it is my distinct privilege
to see that you are
fully acquainted with him.
[door opens]
-[panting] I'm so sorry.
-[Professor Nuttham] Mr. Weber.
"Of man's first disobedience...
...and the fruit
of that forbidden tree
whose mortal taste brought death
into the world and all our woe."
[indistinct chatter]
Caro. Wait, wait,
wait, wait, wait, wait.
I thought you were studying
Political Science.
I am studying Political Science.
-Milton's an elective.
Look, my friend Alex
was trying to help me--
-Get laid? I think that's
the term you're looking for.
-No, that's actually pretty fa--
Godly virgin's a bit
of a high standard,
but you know what,
to each their own.
I just don't see us
being friends after all,
which is such a shame.
-Hi. Oh.
-Hi, Mom. Oh, my gosh.
Oh, it's so good to see you.
As you can see, I'm here
in my palatial dwelling.
Are you eating enough?
You look thin.
Why do you look so thin?
-Yeah, Mom, I'm fine.
-How is Oxford?
Is it everything
you dreamed it would be?
-Yeah, it's amazing.
-I wanna hear everything.
Start from the beginning.
Of course,
he intended to rule from Oxford
once he'd conquered
the rest of Europe.
-Potent image that is.
Imagine the Fhrer
walking down the high street
with his devilish retinue.
Yeah, that is a potent image.
Imagine that.
If you were
just strolling down that way...
-[sighs]'d be quite a--
Oh. Good talk.
[light rock music playing]
Surprised you showed.
Chalk it up to morbid curiosity.
I'll take it.
I just ordered another pint.
-Would you like to order one?
-Yes. Thanks.
Or you can have mine.
I was about to suggest.
[indistinct chatter]
I feel like
I owe you an explanation.
You don't owe me anything.
We barely know each other.
No, but you think
that I'm on some mission
to bed Godly virgins.
So if you don't mind,
-I'd like to clarify it.
[sharply exhales
and softly slurps]
So what's your faith background?
-I don't see
how that's relevant.
-It will provide context--
-I thought you were
providing the context.
-I'm trying to provide--
Well, if you must know,
my mom's Catholic.
Or was or--
well, I guess she still is.
So you grew up Catholic?
I didn't grow up Catholic.
My mom's Catholic-ish.
-So I grew up Protestant,
without the "ish."
-So less incense
-and more Jerry Falwell.
-Okay. How many of us do you
actually know, anyway?
Well, I live in the Western
Hemisphere, so I would say
-roughly 50% of everyone
I've ever met.
-50% of Americans
consider themselves generous,
and they're not all volunteering
-at the Salvation Army.
-So you're one
of the true believers.
That's not how I'd phrase it,
but if you mean am I committed,
-then yes. That's one
very small aspect of it.
-Committed to virginity.
And I wouldn't have brought
that up at all if it hadn't been
for the fact
that you looked at my phone.
That's a slight invasion
of privacy. But look,
-I'm willing to overlook that.
-How generous of you.
-Just because I'm--
-Sexually inexperienced.
-It doesn't mean
that I'm some weird zealot
living out this joyless,
-pleasure-less existence.
-If you have to say it.
And for the record, chastity...'s not at the top
of my list of favorite virtues,
-if you know--
-Wow. You have a list
of favorite virtues?
The point I'm trying to make is
there are people out there
who are committed
to their faith, and they're not
horrible to be around.
Well, you should definitely
get in touch with them.
And it sounds like
you have a promising lead.
Look, Alex only suggested
that I meet her
because she shares
the same faith as me,
-and she's--
[exasperated sigh]
Has anyone ever told you
-that you're incre--
-Well, this has been great.
-Oh, come on,
you haven't touched your--
-Super fun.
-Don't go. I'll see you
-at Nuttham's tutorial, right?
-Can't wait.
It all seems a bit overruled
and heavy-handed to me.
Like Milton is trying
to weasel his way
into the lineage
of great epic poets.
That is a bold theory,
Mr. McCoy.
I think it's quite beautiful,
but not intended
to be taken literally,
of course.
I, I see it as a metaphor
for manmade institutions,
government, organized religion,
and so forth.
[Professor Nuttham]
It's a meditation on morality
and the finiteness
of human existence.
After all, we have to remember
Milton's going blind.
So all this talk of God
is his way of wrestling
with his own existential dread.
Your thoughts, Mr. Weber?
Look, I'm, I'm just
in awe of Miss Drake
and her ability
to offhandedly dismantle
a person's entire worldview.
Oh, I'm sorry.
Am I being difficult?
-You're being assumptive.
-Oh, do tell.
So you're assuming
that Milton's faith
is just a psychological
construct, that it's a,
a mental framework
to better understand reality.
The mind is its own place,
and in itself can make
a heaven of hell
and a hell of heaven.
And to this great argument,
I may assert Eternal Providence
and justify
the ways of God to man.
"Methinks the man
doth protest too much."
Mm. Oh.
More tea, anyone?
How does someone who believes
in talking snakes
get into Oxford?
You realize I'm religious?
-Okay, well, you're different.
He's smug. I'm allergic to smug.
"Say first, for heaven hides
nothing from thy view."
[sighs] If I'm being honest.
I really struggle
with William Blake.
How could I have been
so wrong about him?
I've got to wash my hair.
Oh, fun fact.
India invented shampoo.
Comes from
the Sanskrit word champu,
which means to massage.
"One restraint,
lords of the world besides."
"Every harlot
was a virgin once."
Well, what's the problem
with being a virgin, anyway?
Nothing. Unless you are one. Mm.
[cutlery clinking]
-You poor creature.
-[Hannah] The point is,
we're different,
and we're still friends.
Who says I wanna be his friend?
And try Songs Of Experience.
-By Blake. It has some
of his more accessible work.
[light rock music playing]
Speaking of devout virgins,
I've a sudden urge
to go to confession.
-Father Michael.
-Mm. I'd like to visit
his parish
in the cover of night.
-[Hannah] Linnea.
-Nobody's safe from you.
He's so dreamy.
["The Christmas I Remember"
by The Craig Gildner Sextet
The Christmas I remember
How everything was warm
The winter chill
on window sills
[indistinct chatter]
Compliments of the season,
you miserable reprobate.
-We hadn't much between us
Perhaps two gifts at best
A strand of tinsel
on the treetop
Excuse me.
Hello, my dear.
-You look lovely.
-Let me pour you a sherry.
-Thank you.
'Tis the season to be jolly.
What do you know
about our guest of honor?
-Oh, Dr. Sterling?
Just that he's
a highly respected scientist.
I'm sure the conversation
will prove to be enlightening
for all of us.
-Can I borrow you for a moment?
-Of course. Excuse me.
...I remember best
Was when you gave
your love...
[indistinct chatter, laughter]
The Christmas I remember
How everything was warm
What are you doing here?
I was invited.
Few days ago.
-By the way, you look--
Perhaps two gifts at best
For the record,
I'm... [chuckles]
...I'm not the perfect picture
of chastity.
Mm, you really have
a way with words.
It's more of a,
a well-intentioned attempt
than a reality,
if I'm being totally honest.
And if you keep showing up
looking like that,
it's not gonna be any easier.
... to all our friends
Kids caroling outside
It's a bit strange, isn't it?
Being on the other side
of the curtain.
With both arms open...
I guess
somebody up there likes us.
-[indistinct chatter]
-[soft clinking]
The dimension of time
continues to confound us.
It slips through our hands.
Dr. Sterling, I'm curious.
Do you believe
in a higher consciousness?
Something outside
and above the created world.
Oh, for God's sake, Terrence.
-Precisely, Margo.
-[Professor Rutledge chuckles]
Everything that I've witnessed
in the natural world
seems to operate
on a desire to attain...
What rises, falls.
What freezes, thaws.
What heats, cools.
If these forces were not
in a relationship
of attraction and repulsion,
the axis of the poles
would simply cease to spin,
the tides would halt,
the sun would cease
to rise and set.
Caro, do you want
to add something?
[clears throat] I,
I'm not sure I fully understand.
Are you suggesting
that those things exist
in perfect relationship?
Well, perfect enough
to promote life,
which seems to me to be
awfully genuine. [chuckles]
The more I discovered
the scientific world,
the more convinced I became
of the astonishing
and brilliancy of its design.
And yet,
death has the final word.
Oh, well, that is
a momentary crack
in the equilibrium.
But what if we repair
the relationship,
restore the equilibrium?
Because then what lives
continues to live forever.
Eternal quest for immortality.
-Uh, something. Not, uh,
immortality per se, but...
Even you admit some possibility
of life after death, Margo.
I mean, it's probably just
a psychological
construct, right?
Pass the wine.
[door opens]
[choir singing]
You should probably
be in bed, Edward.
It's not good
for a man to be alone.
[Carolyn sighs]
[sighs] ...I don't think
you have a choice tonight.
[softly] Yeah.
You know...
...autonomy does get
damn lonely from time to time.
Happy Christmas, Caro.
Happy Christmas, Edward.
[paper rustling]
-I have such a good idea.
We just start from scratch.
Nothing ever happened.
Start over. What do you say?
-For what purpose?
-For the purpose of resolving
-that which was left unresolved.
-Oh, but perhaps
that which was left unresolved
need not be resolved.
But you're forgetting
that there's precious little
that cannot be solved
over a hot chocolate.
What do you say?
Where are you going?
Do you want a hot chocolate?
Do you wanna get
a hot chocolate with me?
With you?
I'd rather take a cold bath.
You're gonna take
a cold bath with me? Okay.
-[laughs mockingly]
-So why are you in such a hurry?
-Well, if you must know,
Provost Knight
invited me to dinner.
Provost Knight
invited you to dinner.
Wow. I didn't know
you guys were so tight.
Mm. Well, there's a lot
you don't know about me.
I know. And it's killing me.
-Come on.
[indistinct chatter]
[crickets chirping]
[footsteps approaching]
-[man] Come on, mate.
-[woman] Oh, you're joking.
-[people sighing]
-Jenny, you've got
to understand.
I believe that God
made me for a purpose.
But he also made me fast.
And when I run...
...I feel His pleasure.
-Okay. How would you
define pleasure?
-Sorry, what?
-Well, you said you don't live
a pleasureless life.
-I don't liv--
-And I'm not talking about sex,
because, obviously,
-you wouldn't have
much to say on that subject.
-Okay, thank you.
I'm more talking about
the kind of pleasure
that Eric Liddell felt
when he ran.
You know, like it was
what he was made to do.
Or the feeling you get
when you're struck
by the beauty of a poem
or the colors of a sunset.
-Or I guess, in your case,
some mind-numbing
-theological concept.
-Okay, I see you're
on a roll today.
But it did get me thinking.
When have I felt that?
Because I have felt it,
or something like it.
But how do you define it?
...happiness is too shallow.
Pleasure is too fleeting.
Okay. Let it be noted that
a student of the Romantic poets
is struggling to find
the adequate vocabulary
to describe
an emotional experience.
-I never said it was emotional.
-Didn't you?
No, no, it's, it's something
else, something...
Okay. Come with me.
[upbeat music]
I would agree that happiness
is too shallow a word,
and pleasure is... gross, right?
So if I can humbly suggest
an alternative--
[upbeat music playing]
Surprised By Joy.
He stole that from Wordsworth.
Well, then you're
in good company.
Well, never associated Lewis
with his children's literature.
Well, he was a fellow
at Maudlin, and he was the chair
of Renaissance
and Medieval Studies
at Cambridge.
This is
the closest thing we have
to an autobiography by him.
-I'll consider it. Yeah.
-You'll consider it?
You're not gonna--
You were the one who came to me
on a quest for pleasure.
[upbeat instrumental music
[softly] Can I help you?
Fine. If you insist.
[gentle music]
[bell tolling in distance]
It wasn't horrible.
The bits about joy
were interesting.
The idea that joy
is distinct from pleasure
and how sex is often used
as a substitute for joy.
Which obviously, you wouldn't
know anything about that.
But I'm sure you'll learn
when you get older.
Do you have any other jokes
apart from that one?
He has this way of... [sighs]
...describing things
that defy description.
Like his notion
of inconsolable longing.
It's quite beautiful, actually.
Yeah, it is.
This guy probably had some deep,
unfulfilled desire.
No question. There was
yearning in those bones.
["Chopin: Nocturne Op. 9
No. 2" playing]
So when has Carolyn Drake
felt the stab
of inconsolable longing?
Um, I don't know.
Okay, I'll go first.
Ten years old, I'm in Kansas
for my,
my great-grandmother's funeral.
After the service,
the stars are coming out.
And I go upstairs,
and I jam open this window,
and I sit out there,
my legs dangling outside.
And there's this vast cornfield,
and the stalks
are blowing in the wind.
And it's like a sea,
it's undulating.
And I can...
...I can hear
this very faint music.
And it's just echoing,
it's very ghostlike, and--
I, I don't know,
it just breaks me.
Well, what was the song?
Pour Some Sugar On Me.
[upbeat music playing] a drink?
-[indistinct chatter]
You're not wearing your collar.
[chuckles] Well, sometimes
I like to go undercover.
Mm. Do you?
Well, our... [chuckles]
our Lord didn't walk around
in priestly vestments after all.
[loudly clears throat]
Father, care to join me
in blessing the Irish?
That'd be grand.
Thank you, Edward.
Have I said the wrong thing?
I find casually dropping
the name of Christ
into the conversation
gets an instant reaction.
Mm. And the air
is sucked out of the room.
Well, once upon a time,
the faithful invoked His name,
-and the air rushed in.
-You'll be pleased to know
that Caro is reading C.S. Lewis.
Oh. Take heed.
Some things once read
cannot be unread.
Yeah, well, he's proving
to be quite the distraction.
-He can do that to you.
-Oh, tell me we've ventured out
of the treacherous territory
of politics and religion.
Come now, Sir Edward.
Tell us where you stand
on the son of man.
I stand on the side
of a good pint.
"Eat, drink and be merry
-for tomorrow we die."
-Good enough for me.
All well and good.
Unless tomorrow we rise.
[growling] Oh, like zombies.
Like real men.
Fully and splendidly alive.
As your new acquaintance,
Mr. Lewis puts it.
You lose me at life after death.
Not life after death.
Life abundant,
now... and into eternity.
I think we all have
very different ideas
on what constitutes
an abundant life.
[sighs] Yeah. Come around later,
I'll show you
a few of my ideas, love.
Mm. A spiritual experience
I'm sure, Edward.
I think so.
"To whom th'Arch-Enemy,
and thence in Heav'n
call'd Satan,
with bold words breaking
the horrid silence thus began."
Oh, excellent enunciation.
On to Mr. McCoy.
[deeply exhales
and clears throat]
[clears throat] Um,
if you must know, sir,
I've fallen behind a bit.
A lot, actually.
You have a very high opinion
of yourself, don't you,
Mr. McCoy?
-Well, I--
-Are you perhaps
familiar with Pope,
the 18th century English poet?
-I know him.
-That's lovely, Miss Duncan,
but I was talking to Mr. McCoy.
Once upon a time,
Pope sent a gift
to the Prince of Wales
at his house in Kew.
A dog. He wrote a short epigram
for the dog's collar.
Do you know it?
"I'm His Highness' dog at Kew.
Pray tell me, sir,
whose dog are you?"
What did Pope mean?
We all bow to something.
We are not, after all,
masters of our own fate.
We are not all-knowing,
or self-sufficient.
We all, consciously
or unconsciously,
bend the knee to something
greater than ourselves.
Even you, Mr. McCoy.
Miss Drake?
...I'm so sorry. I, I could
just use a couple more days.
I, I promise
it won't happen again.
Shall we say next Thursday?
[sighs] Thank you.
Lewis frequently wrote
of an inconsolable
and infinite longing.
Sehnsucht in German.
"The longing in the human heart
for we know not what."
In his words,
"The books or the music
in which we thought
the beauty was located
will betray us
if we trust to them.
It was not in them.
It only came through them.
And what came through them
was longing.
For they are not
the thing itself.
They're only the scent
of a flower we have not found,
the echo of a tune
we have not heard,
news from a country
we have never yet visited.
All joy reminds."
[gentle music]
I'm realizing
there's a strength to believe.
I just-- I don't know
if I have it in me.
Did you know that Lewis
was once a skeptic himself?
He considered his friend
J.R.R. Tolkien's faith
to be superstitious nonsense.
One more myth
in a long history of myths
going back to the ancient world.
One night, uh, they were
walking this very path
when Tolkien said something
that would change
the trajectory of Lewis's life.
He told him he was correct.
The story is a myth,
but it's a true myth.
The thing
all the other old stories
were somehow anticipating.
The thing
they were pointing to unaware.
Desire behind desire.
This is one
of my favorite spots.
I often come here
to think and pray.
[softly chuckles] I can see why.
[crickets chirping]
You're a smart girl, Caro.
You work hard,
read ravenously, think deeply.
You're everything
we look for in a student.
But I have known
some brilliant people...
...who have lived lives
of quiet desperation.
The strength you speak of...
...perhaps you're looking
for it in the wrong place.
So, about the stab
of inconsolable longing.
I was eight years old.
My father was...
And I was confused and angry,
and books were an escape.
[gentle music]
I remember exactly where I was
sitting in the corner of my room
when I opened
this big volume of poetry
right to Shelley's Mont Blanc.
"The everlasting universe
of things
flows through the mind
and rolls its rapid waves.
Now dark, now glittering,
now reflecting gloom."
...I don't know, I just, I,
I remember being overwhelmed
with beauty and sadness,
all in the same moment.
[bell tolling faintly]
Meaning cannot be deciphered
in and of itself.
It exists
within a system of signs.
Signs which are constantly
signifying other signs,
but which are themselves
incapable of leading us back
to the source
of the sign itself.
-Who made him the authority?
This is why truth can only
ever be relative in nature.
We can't know
what we don't know.
We are indeed limited
by our own
So then why should we trust him?
Who is that?
Come on. Don't be shy.
Who was it?
Grey cardigan? Yes.
Stand up, please.
[softly sighs]
Would you like
to share your thoughts
with the rest
of the class, Miss--
-Miss Drake.
Well, you said that truth
can only be relative.
But if that's the case,
how can I trust you?
Tell me, Miss Drake,
are you familiar
with the Moro reflex?
The Moro reflex
is an infantile response
to the sensation of falling.
The infant opens its arms,
closes them,
begins crying.
What does this tell us?
-That babies don't like falling.
-[soft chuckling]
It tells us that humanity
feels the need to cling
to something tangible
in the face of distress.
We are, all of us, at the mercy
of a combination of instincts,
drives, emotions, reflexes.
Flailing infants
in a deterministic universe.
That's actually pretty good,
I should write that down.
[soft chuckling]
I don't see how our need
to cling to something tangible
in the face of distress proves
that nothing is tangible.
-My dear, Miss Drake--
-And maybe you're right.
Maybe we are limited
by our self-referentiality.
And if that's the case,
then your truth is
as valuable as mine
and is worthless.
But... [sighs]
...maybe you're wrong.
Maybe we reach
for something or...
...desire something because
that something is there...
...beyond us.
The thing
all our desires point to.
That's quite enough,
Miss Drake. Sit down.
[deeply exhales]
What has gotten into you?
[inspirational music]
[indistinct chatter]
[soft chiming]
[indistinct chatter]
Okay, so the white man is on...
[indistinct chatter]
[Carolyn chuckles]
[upbeat jazz music playing]
Apparently, you've be spending
a lot of time at St. Mary's.
How in the world
would you know that?
-I know all things.
So what do you do in St. Mary's?
I sit and I read.
What? Like the plaques?
[woman laughing]
You're religious.
Sure. Okay.
And I'm not.
-So by some secret law
of the universe, we can't date.
All right. I'm gonna need you
to tell me more about this
secret law of the universe.
And... do you
consider this a date?
I gotta go.
No, you don't have to go.
Are you s--
Every time.
[engines rumbling]
[deeply sighs]
-I'm sorry. What are you doing?
You just cut in front of me.
Well, I'm keeping you safe
from the traffic.
-Well, it's polite.
-It's weird.
-Look, if a car comes
speeding down here,
-I'm j-- Well, no--
-You'd what?
Take the hit for me?
How heroic of you.
-I'm just trying
to be courteous--
-Okay, well, your courtesy
is a patriarchal act
of subordinating assumption.
Are you serious? No one speaks
like that, not even you.
Okay, don't push it, TDH.
TDH? What's a TDH?
Um... [sighs]
...tall, d-- uh,
disciple of... holiness.
-Tall disciple of holiness.
-Really? It's weird.
Yep. Well, thanks for walking me
down the sidewalk.
-So nice.
-TDH. I like it.
Please, please,
please, please, please.
Professor McTeague!
Professor McTeague.
Professor McTeague!
Professor McTeague.
-[door closes]
-Oh, damn it. I'm so sorry.
I, I, I-- [mumbles] come on,
I got caught in traffic.
Oh, bloody hell.
You all right?
Your tutors say that you've
fallen behind with your studies.
That you seem distracted.
I've seen students fall in
with the wrong crowd.
Soon they're partying
more than studying.
No, no. God, no.
That's, that's not it.
Well, whatever it is,
I encourage you
to distance yourself
from anything that diverts you
from your original goal.
If you do not meet
the necessary criteria,
it is possible to have
the scholarship rescinded.
[thunder rumbling]
[rain splattering]
[deeply inhales and exhales]
I come in search of milk.
Do you have any milk?
Yeah, I--
yeah, it's in the fridge.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I just didn't really feel
like walking in the rain.
It's absolutely miserable
out there.
Hey, what would you say
about a hot chocolate break?
-I, I really can't.
-Why not?
I just--
I have a lot to do, okay?
And I need to stay focused.
Okay, but I mean,
you also need to take breaks.
It's important to take breaks.
I can't afford
to take any more breaks.
We'll see how you feel
about that tomorrow.
-Okay, can you not take a hint?
This is why I'm here.
To work and earn my doctorate
and get on with my life,
not to pointless conversations
and afternoon tea.
-Caro, I know you--
-Whatever you think this is,
I can assure you you're wrong.
I let myself get
momentarily distracted,
and it was obviously a mistake.
[rain splattering]
Have you ever considered,
even for one moment,
that maybe you're not here
just for a doctorate?
-Listen, you're not--
-Maybe there's other experiences
-that are impor--
-...not hearing what I'm saying.
Earlier today,
I had to sit and listen
as someone explained to me
that I was in danger
of losing my scholarship.
Do you have any idea
how hard I've worked for this?
I'm sorry. I never intended
to get in the way--
Oh, okay.
Because who could deny you?
The perfect picture
of chivalry, right?
-Well, guess what. I don't buy
what you're selling.
You act like you're different,
but you're not.
You'll trick me
into trusting you
and then make promises
that you can't keep.
And what then?
What was it all for?
I'd like to avoid
that inevitable catastrophe,
if you don't mind.
Caro, that doesn't have
to be our story.
[thunder rumbling]
I can't be whatever it is
you want me to be,
[softly] Okay.
Please leave.
Okay. I'll just go to the store.
[door closes]
[sharply exhales]
[light melancholic music]
[paper rustling]
In closing, Shelley's mastery
of language is a potent reminder
that women are uniquely equipped
to embody and articulate
the depths
of emotional experience.
Who's next?
[indistinct chatter]
Earth to Caro.
You've been in a funk for weeks.
[deeply exhales] I'm fine.
When was the last time
you spoke to Kent?
Hello, darling.
How are we this morning?
...have we, um...
[clears throat]
...shared the news? Oh.
There is no news.
Oh, come on.
We can't hide the truth
from these two, can we?
-It's nothing.
[loudly] We shagged.
It feels good to say that.
It was really good.
[deeply exhales]
[whispers] Shit.
-Just get out.
-Sorry. Sorry.
[birds chirping]
Caro, what is going on with you?
Nothing. I'm just... [sighs]
Deeply unhappy?
You're working yourself sick,
and I'm worried about you.
-I'm worried that--
That you'll get
everything you want
and be perfectly miserable
in the end.
Yeah, okay.
Kent has a visitor.
She arrived yesterday
from the States.
Supposedly, they were introduced
through his friend Alex.
Didn't take him long, did it?
Talk to him.
-Because you love him.
-It's ridiculous.
-Is it?
I've got a lot
of reading to get in,
I'll catch up with you later.
-He actually wasn't that bad.
-I don't wanna know.
[gentle music]
[indistinct chatter]
[soft laughter]
-I know, I-- I know--
-[indistinct chatter]
[engines rumbling]
[music increases]
-Why are you following me?
-Let go of me!
I've been trying
to let go of you.
Well, clearly,
you're not having any trouble.
What are you talking about?
You were the one
-who pulled away from me.
-A choice that's looking
-wiser and wiser by the second.
-I'm sorry.
Why are you upset? You said
that you wanted to concentrate
-on your doctorate.
-I do! I'm just marveling
at how quickly you moved on
to greener pastures.
Well, that's not fair.
I mean, it's not even accur--
Oh, please do
mansplain it to me.
Okay, stop pretending
like you don't care.
-I don't care!
I'm sick and tired
of your bullshit.
All right?
You wear this brave face,
but inside,
you're just as scared
-as everybody else, okay?
-You have no idea
-what you're talking about.
You're afraid
to let yourself be loved
because it's a step
into the unknown,
and nothing scares you more
in the world than the unknown.
You pour over the words
of dead people.
You, you study them,
and you analyze them.
But you don't let yourself
feel those same things.
I'm sorry
your dad abandoned you.
[melancholic music]
It doesn't mean
that I would have.
Don't act like you know
anything about my life!
-You have no idea.
-I hate to break it
to you, Caro.
You own the market corner
of disappointment.
You do not know
what I've been through.
No, you're right. I don't.
And I know that you have
every reason to be angry.
You have
every reason to be confused
and to push everyone away.
But is that what you want?
Is that what you want?
Do you want to be alone?
Do you?
You know,
maybe we reach for something
because that something is there.
[engine rumbling]
[crickets chirping]
[pencil breaks]
You gotta be kidding me.
-The rules are perfectly clear.
-I know. I know the rules.
It's, you know,
no ink around the books.
I get it. You know,
-it's protect the damn books--
-You should kindly keep
your voice down--
Keep your voice down
in the library! You know,
it's just all about the books.
How precious they are.
Keep the ink away
from the books.
And everything's
about the books.
-The books, the books, the--
What have you done?
[door opens]
Can I have a word
with her alone?
[door closes]
Oh, my dear girl.
I am going to my cottage
in the Cotswolds
for the weekend.
I'd be delighted
if you joined me.
Unless, of course,
you prefer to stay here.
[gentle music]
[door closes]
[birds chirping]
Hello, Sammy.
You the welcoming party?
[chuckles] Good boy.
Hi, Sammy.
[deeply exhales]
A bit of housekeeping.
While you're here,
you must call me Regina.
-Oh, I don't--
-No arguing.
Come, I'll show you
to your room.
This was my husband's old study.
My, how he loved
this room. [chuckles]
Back in those days,
it was a bustling, busy house.
This was his refuge.
He passed away four years ago.
I'm sorry.
Life goes on.
About what happened--
Don't. You're my guest,
and you've nothing
to apologize for.
I'll get you some towels.
[gentle music]
[deeply exhales]
[knocks on door]
[door opens]
I saw your light on.
-Sorry. I saw it here.
-No, it's all right.
[sharply exhales]
After Henry died...
...I had my share
of restless nights.
So many questions,
so few answers.
You seem so strong.
So settled.
Oh. That's where faith
comes in, I suppose.
A faith that says
it's somehow going to be
all right in the end.
Doesn't take away
the pain, but... does make it
more bearable.
[sighs] You know...'re not at all
what I thought you'd be like.
-[softly chuckles]
No, it's just...
...all I've ever wanted
was to be someone... you.
Someone who's carved
her own path.
Who's accomplished
and confident and intelligent.
But you're so...
Uh, unimpressed with myself?
That's Kirk Manor,
near where I grew up
in Scotland.
Beautiful house
with a magnificent hedged maze.
One of the best in the country.
Though not
for the faint of heart.
It was quite common
for visitors to lose their way.
So the groundskeeper
installed bells
at various points throughout.
So if you were lost,
you simply rang the bell,
and help would come.
As you can imagine,
not everyone had the humility
to admit they were lost.
There was a man from town
who spent two nights
out in the cold
before the bell sounded.
Made the front page
of the morning paper.
You've worked so hard, Caro,
for so long.
But all your striving
didn't get you here.
It took someone
believing in you.
Deveaux was his name, wasn't it?
That's a gift.
That's grace.
I believe there's grace
all around us all the time.
If we can only have the humility
to admit that we need it.
That we can't find
a way out on our own.
[gentle music]
[birds chirping]
[music continues]
[bell tolling]
So, Caro, are the rumors true?
You've joined
Father Michael's pious flock?
-It's only a matter of time.
What can I do to convince you
to join the normal world?
What is normal, Edward?
You don't need religion
to find meaning. Look at me.
I create my own meaning. Yeah?
-Do you?
-Isn't that right,
Linnea darling?
-Get off.
But don't you ever worry
that you'll get
to the end of your life
and just wonder
what it was all for?
[grunts] Of course.
That's why I wanna die
very old and in my sleep,
-next to this lovely lady,
-[Hannah] Yeah.
To ease into nothingness,
not to find out
with your dying breath
that you've been tricked
all along.
I don't wanna know, see?
Sometimes it's easier
to just leave
after sharing a cigarette.
I wanna show you something.
[bird chirping]
["Ubi Caritas"
by Poor Clare Sisters, Arundel]
William Holman Hunt.
It's quite lovely...
of the subject matter.
Oh, look.
There's a mistake.
There's no handle on the door.
The door can only be opened
from the inside.
Don't eat those.
[fireworks blowing]
["If Only My Heart Could Speak"
by Cody Fry]
You're making me confused
I'm puzzled and bemused
I'm fuddled
heart's been puddled by...
Begging your pardon,
Professor McTeague.
Good God, man.
Where did you spring from?
Uh, I, I've been meaning
to ask you about your take
on Scott's The Antiquary.
Personally, I consider it
his most underrated work.
Oh, my boy, I had no idea
you're so keen on Scott.
Well, you must let me show you
some of my first
editions someday.
-She keeps putting Blue Curaao
on everything.
-Amelia Kantor.
-[soft clinking]
"To whom th'Arch-Enemy,
and thence in Heav'n
call'd Satan,
with bold words breaking
the horrid silence thus began."
Well done, Mr. McCoy.
You know what?
I think I've changed
my mind about Milton.
He's actually quite a good one
to give a second read.
Yes. I think he has a future.
[indistinct chatter]
Oh, I didn't have the time
-To think of...
-Okay, so I feel
-like I owe you an expla--
-I'm sorry.
Me too.
What do you say we resolve
that which was left unresolved?
I think that would be
such a great idea.
Where's your perfect match?
Turns out she's not my type.
No. No, uh,
she was far too much
of a pushover.
But I could never teach...
You seem different.
Well, I, I washed my hair.
That must be it.
Do you wanna see
the best view in Oxford?
[gentle music]
[softly grunts]
So, apparently, you were banned
from the Bodleian Library.
I don't really
wanna talk about it.
[whispers] Really?
Oh, my God,
you're an Oxford grad.
How does that feel?
I hear Blackwell's is hiring.
Yeah. The thing is, I actually
already have a job offer.
It's for a...
...think tank, which is
basically a consulting firm.
It's like low-level stuff,
but it's,
it's got room to grow.
In the UK?
In DC, actually.
How long do you have to decide?
Well, I've already accepted.
I leave tonight.
[gentle music continues]
What am I to you?
What are we?
What do you want us to be?
[deeply exhales]
[music increases]
-[indistinct chatter]
I will never leave you
all alone
I couldn't stay, she's...
My taxi is waiting.
[upbeat dance music playing]
[Carolyn sighs]
So what happens now?
That's the question.
Isn't it?
[music continues]
-Don't say goodbye.
-There he is. Oh, come on, Kent.
-Come on.
-One more group photo b--
-One more group photo
before you leave.
-[cross talk]
-[softly] I'm sorry.
I will never leave you
all alone
When the night gets
dark and cold
[light suspenseful music]
[romantic music]
[music increases]
[gentle music]
[rains splattering]
[horse clopping]
[music continues]
You all right, Miss?
Where are you supposed to be?
I don't know.
Hop on.
I'll give you a ride.
So remember how Aristotle said
that man is teleological?
Well, here's the thing.
A telos isn't just a goal
or a destination.
It's the purpose of a thing.
What it's designed to do.
For all our striving
and philosophizing,
knowledge only gets us so far.
Maybe we're made for longing.
And we're restless
until we're ravished
by the truth.
[music continues]
So what happens now... that the dance is over...
...the curtain closed?
That's the question.
Isn't it?
[paper rustling]
It's metaphorical, isn't it?
Donne's using
these religious images
as a way to comment
on the human striving
for ideals.
[soft clatters]
I think you misunderstood.
The truth is in the paradox.
-Are we still on for Paris?
-[Linnea] Are you kidding?
I wouldn't miss it.
Yes. And then afterwards,
you come straight to India.
Oh, the kids are adorable, Caro.
I think they're ruining me.
Well, you better
send me some photos
now that I have a real phone.
Look at her. She's all grown up.
[door creaks]
Really wish you were here,
Dr. Drake.
Hey, can I call you guys
right back?
-[Linnea] Okay. Bye.
-[Hannah] Okay. Love you. Bye.
[birds chirping]
[indistinct chatter]
[inspirational music]
The truth is in the paradox.
Death to life.
Pain to glory.
Seeds sown in winter
burst forth in spring.
Hope eternal.
World without end.
Just when you think
the story's over,
there's room
for one more surprise.
Keep up, please. Keep up.
We're approaching
the Bodleian Library.
Keep coming.
Okay, stop. This library
is approximately 400...
[music increases]
[man] feel free
to take photos...
[indistinct chatter]
[romantic music]
[inspirational music]
[music continues]
[music continues]
[music continues]
[gentle music]
[music continues]
[music continues]