As the first buds begin to bloom, nature is waking up from the cold and bestowing its beauty upon us once more. Our contributors talk through some of their favourite evocations of spring on the silver screen, from the bluebell-laden landscapes of Bright Star to the disconcerting floral nightmare of Midsommar.
Bright Star (2009)
Spring is catnip to poets. From Shakespeare’s darling buds of May to Wordsworth’s lonely cloud, there’s nothing as poetic as the beginning of spring and the promise of new life. John Keats was no exception—it was his favourite season.
Jane Campion’s Bright Star tells the doomed love story between struggling poet Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his next-door neighbour, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). As the garden blooms with pale yellow daffodils nodding in the breeze, the wave of first love sweeps the couple off their feet. Campion’s careful focus on springtime, whether it’s a wood awash with bluebells or Fanny offering John a sprig of blossom, is a beautiful appreciation of British nature. Yet, as Fanny fills her room with captured butterflies and reads John’s love letters in a field of flowers, there’s a constant reminder that winter’s deathly chill isn’t too far off.
Words by Lucy Clarke
If spring were a single scene in a movie, it could be anything shot in the grounds of Hartfield: the home of our heroine in Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.
De Wilde structures the film to cover all four seasons, but spring certainly feels like the dominant energy throughout. Even among the darkest winter scenes, spring motifs prevail. From floral patterns and pastel colours to the promise of a new, slow-burn romance, Emma truly feels like the embodiment of spring
There is much more to be written about this film but, to borrow from Austen: “If I loved it less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
Words by Amelia Ramage
Big Fish (2003)
Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) stands in a field of daffodils as he proclaims his love for Sandra (Alison Lohman). From the flowers to the soft lighting, the viewer is immersed in the quintessential spring scene: a paradisiac setting that feels entirely surreal.
Yet the movie’s affinity with the season goes beyond a romantic declaration of love. Spring is also a time for rebirth, a celebration of life. As Will (Billy Crudup) finally learns to embrace his father’s imagination, he carries him to a lake where, surrounded by those who have loved him, he is reborn as a fish.
Despite death being at the centre of the plot, Big Fish is never dim nor dark. Director Tim Burton tells a personal and hopeful tale of love and grief. This touching tribute to the power of storytelling honours life beyond death, with memorable characters and inspired visuals.
Words by Elisabetta Pulcini
The Wind Rises (2013)
There’s a fresh vibrancy to the blue skies and green fields of The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki’s windswept melodrama about aircraft engineer Jiro Horikoshi. Though ostensibly about the invention of the Mitsubishi A5M and A6M fighter aircrafts, the film is far more concerned with the restorative powers of nature and its connection to our childhood fantasies. Joe Hisaishi’s musical motif, which echoes throughout the film, is moving and nostalgic: like the arrival of spring, it’s a beauty you never tire of. With splashes of spring rain, soft breezes and gently emerging flowers, Miyazaki uses Japan’s natural beauty to tell a moving story about memory and sacrifice.
Words by Steph Green
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Known for his quirky and expertly colour-calibrated films, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel perfectly embodies the colours of springtime. Many of the film’s iconic stills boast a pink, cherry-blossom hue, reflecting a comforting and painterly feel that spring itself offers. Comparable to a cool spring breeze, the blue that lines the pillars in the hotel and graces the uniforms of the Mendl’s Pastries workers contrasts this pink, allowing a slight tinge of lavender to seep through into the colour scheme, providing a visual representation of the balance of the warmth and cold of the season. The Grand Budapest Hotel radiates a comforting, calm energy that only Anderson could construct.
Words by Elizabeth Fagan
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
While To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is set over the course of several months, its colourful pastel palette—and theme of new beginnings—makes it clear that it belongs to the springtime. Based on the novel by Jenny Han, the film brings a sense of freshness to the teen movie genre through its peppy soundtrack and recognizable characters, who feel closer to people you’d actually meet in a high school than Mean Girls stereotypes.
In one scene, where heroine Lara Jean and love interest Peter are making a list of rules for their fake-dating scheme, they are framed by blossoming trees and the sound of birdsong. This undeniably springtime aesthetic, surrounding a plot moment that brings a classic rom-com trope back to life, encapsulates everything the film is about.
Words by Katie Kirkpatrick
When you think of spring, the chances are you don’t think of cultish sacrifices, psychedelic drugs or skulls smashed on granite plinths. Ari Aster’s Midsommar wants you to.
The auteur’s follow-up to Hereditary remoulds the horror landscape with a vibrant, sugary colour palette that proves the light of day can be just as terrifying as the dark. Florence Pugh’s Dani goes on a journey of discovery and reinvention, with Aster using the well-trodden motif of spring blossoming new life to visceral and horrific effect. Fresh flowers and green grass are no longer symbols of natural beauty, but of threat, decay and horror—and the final scene will completely transform your relationship with floral wreaths.
It’s a portrayal of spring unlike anything we’ve really seen before, and if the season previously filled you with warmth and hope, Midsommar might change your perception a little.
Words by Luke Hinton