You could read the Harvard Crimson’s 5 star review of The Social Network to see what the journalistic mouthpiece of Harvard has to say about director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s new movie about facebook (and so much more), but I’ll give you a first hand look at how an opening night, sold-out audience at the AMC theater in Harvard Square responded to the critically-acclaimed movie. Admittedly, it’s impossible to know what percentage of the 7:30 p.m. viewing audience was made up of students, or undergraduates, or people in anyway associated to the university, but the theater’s entrance is only about 150 feet from a main Harvard gate (including a T entrance) to Harvard Yard and is definitely the closest theater to Harvard’s main campus.
WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD.
Only the first 60 minutes or so really have anything to do with Harvard, but here’s what I have for you…
Applause: There were two moments during the movie when the audience strongly applauded. The first what when the ever pretentious Zuckerberg character says “You don’t need to study: you go to BU.” The second was during the long, establishing shot of Harvard, immediately after the first (break-up) scene.
Confusion: there were murmurs throughout the theater as the Zuckerberg character ran through the “Harvard campus” to his dorm. Apparently many people in the audience didn’t know that no commercial filming is allowed on campus and most had been done elsewhere. My favorite comments were from the people behind me, who thought that “it must be at the Divinity school?” No, friends. No.
Harvard parties: There was a great deal of laughter regarding the absurdity of the initial “final club” party at the beginning of the film. I’ve never been to a final club party here, but as I understand it, there aren’t many lingerie-clad women dancing on tables or playing strip poker, even on weekends at Harvard. There was even more laughter regarding another party scene, at a Caribbean-themed, Jewish fraternity party. Speaking from some firsthand experience, this is much more what Harvard club parties look like.
On location: as far as I can tell, there were about 4 shots/scenes in the entire movie actually shot in Cambridge: 1.) the establishing shot of Harvard, which shows Lehman Hall and Out of Town News in Harvard Square. 2.) a shot of University Hall 3.) a shot of Weeks Bridge with Weld boathouse in the background 4.) on the Charles, rowing ridiculously early in the morning. (after watching DVD extras I’ve discovered they also actually filmed in Mr. Bartley’s burger place and the Thirsty Scholar bar).
The Harvard code of conduct: the idea of invoking (or reading, or owning) the Harvard code of conduct, or whatever they call it in the film, may have gotten the biggest laugh of all from the audience.
… but this is one audience’s set of expressive reactions. Go see it yourself and have your own.