Rover masthead shares favorites from winter break

Nico Schmitz, Editor-in-Chief: Knute Rockne: All American (Lloyd Bacon)

This 1940 classic film on the life of legendary football coach Knute Rockne ought to be required viewing for every Notre Dame undergraduate student. Like Rudy, the film features classic shots of campus and thrilling scenes on the football field, but Knute Rockne: All American is truly about Our Lady’s university, rather than a film just about football. Throughout the film the Alma Mater almost exclusively plays in the background, played at different speeds to depict the mood of the respective scene. The movie follows the life story of Rockne, or “Rock,” demonstrating how at each and every turn of his life he sought to cultivate virtue, simplicity, and leadership in his commitment to the university and his vocation. The closing scene of the movie depicts Rockne’s funeral at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, reinforcing this narrative. As the camera pans to shots of the basilica and the choir sings angelic-like hymns, the eulogist puts it best: “Knute Rockne might have gone to any university in the land and been gladly received and forever cherished there, but he chose Our Lady’s school. He honored her in the monogram he earned and wore. He honored her in the principles and in the ideals he set up in the lives of young men under his care. He was, indeed, her true son.” This 99-minute film will not disappoint. 

Elizabeth Hale, Managing Editor: The Trial (Franz Kafka)

A deeply unsettling novel about the trial of Josef K., The Trial by Franz Kafka brings its reader to consider the nature of freedom and condemnation and how these operate within a civil structure. At the beginning of the novel, Josef is placed under arrest, but he knows nothing of the clandestine court that has arrested him. He does not even know the charges against which he must defend himself. In a way that is reminiscent of Raskolnikov, Josef is left a physically free man, but he is trapped by the mere awareness of his arrest and his obsession with his acquittal. Josef’s slow descent into mania and powerlessness is a sobering and thought-provoking view into how the human psyche responds to guilt, innocence, and imprisonment.

Bridgette Rodgers, Culture Editor: It Happened on 5th Avenue (Roy Del Ruth) 

This 1947 Christmas classic appears to focus on the difficult life of a homeless man named Aloysius “Mac” McKeever at first. But, as the scenes progress, it becomes a lively, heart-warming tale of love and laughter. During the winter months, Mac resides in an empty mansion on 5th Avenue, owned by the esteemed Michael O’Connor. Mac refers to the home as his own and invites his new friend, Jim, a recently evicted veteran, to stay with him. The O’Connor family is unaware of Mac’s yearly tradition, so when Trudy, Michael’s daughter, arrives, she is surprised to find herself a guest in her own home. Although initially stunned by a squatter in her home, she sees the goodness within Mac and decides to conceal her true identity. The situational comedy is furthered by the arrival of Michael O’Connor himself. As he attends to business, which creates conflict within the film, the charade continues, filled with emotionally intense moments. Through an endless supply of hilarious coincidental occurrences, Trudy falls in love with Jim, and Mac never discovers the identity of his “house guests.” This film encapsulates all the wonderful things about Christmas: family, love, and laughter.

Michael Canady, Campus Editor: Boys in the Boat (George Clooney)

Based on the equally captivating book by Daniel James Brown, this film tells the inspiring story of Joe Rantz and the University of Washington rowing team’s journey to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Boys in the Boat provides a message of sacrifice and humility that is unfortunately rare in today’s film culture, while also being filled with the same stirring patriotic fervor as Top Gun: Maverick or Saving Private Ryan. Although the book tells the complete background story of Joe’s upbringing, the movie still captures the same underdog mentality that is the foundation of the team’s passion. By the end of the movie, you, like the boys from Washington, will realize that “it’s not about you, me, or anybody else. It’s about the boat.”

Kephas Olsson, Religion Editor: The Unintended Reformation (Brad Gregory)

A brilliant dive into the causes and effects of the Reformation by the renowned Notre Dame professor Brad Gregory, The Unintended Reformation traces various aspects of modernity to the Reformation, arguing that its unintended consequences include hyper-pluralistic morality, secularism, and consumerist capitalism. Gregory writes, “The Western world today is an extraordinarily complex, tangled product of rejections, retentions, and transformations of medieval Western Christianity, in which the Reformation era constitutes the critical watershed.” The work is masterful in its scope and potently argues not only that current cultural realities are dependent on contingent historical occurrences, but also that understanding those occurrences is crucial if we aim to understand the foundations of modernity. The Unintended Reformation is a must read for anyone wishing to understand the complex interrelation of religion, philosophy, history, and politics in the modern West— a West deeply rooted in unintended consequences of the Reformation.

PJ Butler, Politics Editor: TRON Lightcycle / Run (Walt Disney World Resort)

The newest major attraction at Walt Disney World brings the excitement of the Grid to Tomorrowland at The Magic Kingdom. Though the roller coaster was first announced in 2017 with a scheduled premiere in 2021, construction delays (and cuts to Disney’s capital expenditures) delayed the ride’s opening until April 2023. The clone of the Shanghai Disneyland headliner makes for a strong addition to the lineup of the world’s most-visited theme park with its unique vehicles and Daft Punk soundtrack. The ride duration is short—only a minute long from the launch to the breaks. Nevertheless, getting “digitized” and hopping onto a Light Cycle like Sam Flynn provides a form of childhood wish fulfillment unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. If you’re able, ride at night for views of the mesmerizing Upload Conduit light show. With TRON Lightcycle / Run, the Grid is at long last open for Programs and Users alike. End of line.

James Whitaker, Humor Editor: The Napoleon of Notting Hill (G. K. Chesterton)

In 1906, Chesterton wrote this satire of London culture, set in the year 1984—legend has it that Orwell’s own 1984 was inspired by Chesterton’s work. The story is set in a London that “had lost faith in revolutions. Democracy was dead; for no one minded the governing class governing. England was now practically a despotism, but not an hereditary one. Someone in the official class was made King. No one cared how: No one cared who. He was merely a universal secretary.” His premise kicks off a wonderfully far-fetched story of Auberon Quin, the king of England, who amuses himself by forcing London back into the garb, customs, and romance of medieval England. His joke spirals out of hand, however, when Adam Wayne doesn’t see the joke; rather, Wayne fights to defend the honor of his little neighborhood of Notting Hill when it is threatened.

Madeline Murphy, Copy Editor: Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda)

This 2015 musical gained almost-instant popularity and has remained in the light since then. Hamilton tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton through a surprising medium: hip-hop and rap music. Wars and duels depicted through modern dance and bright flashes of light draw young audiences into this (semi-accurate) historical narrative. The show does not solely exist for entertainment or historical value, though; it has a moral undercurrent. As Hamilton struggles to balance the demands of founding a nation and fathering a family, he falls into an affair. After his wife, Eliza, discovers his infidelity, she is filled with pain, and lives coldly with him. As they mutually mourn the death of their son, Eliza moves past her resentment and forgives her unfaithful husband. Despite significant damage to their marriage, they are eventually able to love and accompany each other again through the power of forgiveness. 

Madelyn Stout, Layout Manager: The Martian (Andy Weir)

Andy Weir’s novel The Martian features a situation no human being wishes to endure—complete, utter aloneness. The year is 2035, and Astronaut Mark Watney finds himself marooned on Mars, hoping to survive four years until the next NASA mission to the barren red planet. Equipped with a knack for fixing things, a few potatoes, some botanical skills, and the knowledge that he is all by himself on a wasteland of a planet, Mark must find a way to stay alive. With his crew unaware of his status, it’s not just the old adage of man versus nature that Mark must confront, but so too the realization that he is his only companion, only hope, and only chance at complete survival. Sure, Mark is “pretty much ******,”  as the novel’s first lines state, but Weir’s combination of witty quips with scientific language and geekery makes for a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys science fiction. 

Kateri Castillo, Webmaster:  Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Netflix and Formula One)

The documentary series, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, produced by Netflix and Formula One, brings viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the cars, drivers, and races that make up the Formula One World Championship. This binge-worthy series is perfect for both racing and non-racing fans alike, as it focuses not only on the car races itself, but the people behind each car. Each episode provides the viewer with an in-depth look at a certain aspect of the Formula One World Championship, such as Red Bull’s racing strategy, Mercedes’ car performance problems, or the expectations that rookie Haas’ driver, Mick Schumacher, has to face from being the son of the legendary Michael Schumacher. Formula 1: Drive to Survive ultimately leaves each viewer with a greater respect for the engineers and drivers behind each car, and a desire to see the beauty and danger of a Formula One race live.

Photo Credit: Matthew Rice

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