The Bench Mob, polling, Miles Austin, and Wilson Hall’s closeup in 1982’s Annie: Monmouth University is nationally known for these things.
But over the summer, thousands across the country came to know us as the home for the Boss through a film called Blinded by the Light.
Released on Aug. 16, director Gurinder Chadha’s film follows a young Pakistani boy named Javid growing up in 1987 Luton, England.
Javid is a huge music fan and discovers the sound of Bruce Springsteen while in college. Springsteen’s lyrics speak to Javid and he starts to gain confidence in becoming a writer.
Towards the end of the film (this doesn’t spoil much, promise), Javid’s professor tells him that he won an essay contest. The professor then explains that the winners receive their award at then Monmouth College.
When he’s told this, Javid asks his professor, “Monmouth College?”
The professor replies that it’s in New Jersey and in the area of where The Boss grew up.
Javid jumps on the opportunity and goes home to tell his dad.
When his dad finds out the news, he asks the same question, “Monmouth College?” Against his father’s wishes, Javid hops on a plane to the “Land of Hopes and Dreams.”
Once Javid arrives in America, there’s a montage of him and his friend checking out hot spots of The Boss in Freehold and Asbury Park (this includes the Stone Pony, of course).
While at Monmouth, he’s greeted by a professor in front of the welcome sign.
The sign is edited to say “Monmouth College” instead of University.
On his way out, Javid poses for a photo under the archway entrance by the Guggenheim Library.
For Hawks, this was a jaw- dropping moment that produced feelings of pride and wit.
I felt proud seeing our University as a place of “High Hopes” for someone and it was hysterical to see the characters have no idea who we are.
For a beautiful, small campus nestled by the shore, it was a moment I’ll never forget seeing on the big screen.
But how did Monmouth get its big break?
Eileen Chapman, Director of the Bruce Springsteen Archives at the University, shed her own light on how Monmouth was involved in the filmmaking process.
“Chadha came to visit me at the Bruce Springsteen Archives in August of 2017,” Chapman said. “We spoke about the movie’s storyline and its connection to Bruce and also to the surrounding area. She was also working closely with Bruce’s management and with Sony Records.”
Once the film neared completion, Chapman stated, “I was also in touch with Warner Brothers to discuss the screening in our area. Gurinder continued to remain in touch and I was invited to a screening of the film last May.”
After she saw the film, Chapman enjoyed it. “I was completely captivated by the film,” she said.
Chapman further explained how Blinded by the Light connected to her role at the Center for the Arts: “Being surrounded by students throughout the year I am always a champion for those who follow their dreams and passions.”
She concluded, “I also strongly believe in the power and love of family so I completely related to Sarfraz’s close relationships with his.”
Sarfraz Manzoor is who the film is inspired by.
Hawks who have seen the movie agree with Chapman.
Areebah Zia, a senior political science student, said the film felt personal to her. “I really liked the movie because my parents are Pakistani immigrants too. I think it did a good job of showing how immigrant parents are really protective of their kids and weary of them assimilating to western culture too much,” Zia said.
In regard to the University’s role in the film, Zia stated, “Seeing Monmouth in the movie was really cool and made it hit even closer to home.”
Blinded by the Light brings out these emotions for any Springsteen fan, aspiring writer, or Hawk. It has a “Hungry Heart” with a good story, insight into a toxic period of England’s recent history, and of course, excellent music.
It’s worth taking a trip down “Thunder Road” to see not only for Hawks, but everyone.
IMAGE TAKEN from Smooth Radio