See the Campus From Your Laptop

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With all the dreary rain tumbling down outside, you might be hesitant to believe how beautiful the campus is going to be in full spring bloom. Polish up your Columbia campus mental imagery, then, with the following selection of films available on Netflix’s Watch Instantly! service — they all incorporate Columbia and its campus, even if not always by name. 


After being expelled from Columbia, three parapsychology “experts” open up a ghost investigation and eradication service in New York City. The trio soon discover a centuries-old Sumerian demon living in an apartment refrigerator near Central Park, which they learn has imminent plans to trigger the apocalypse. Fighting off both stern government agents and evil beings that come their way, the Ghostbusters must rush to save their reputations and New York itself.

The film that started the franchise, Ghostbusters is one of the rare exceptions to the rule with most movies that film on campus. Columbia generally tries to avoid being mentioned by name in these movies, but here, the university features rather prominently in the plot. Look for scenes filmed around Low Library beginning about 12 minutes into the movie, and look for a second sequel to the film in 2010.



A painfully ended relationship leads Joel and Clementine to pursue an experimental medical procedure that can erase specific memories. As they both lose the experiences they shared, Joel rediscovers his passion for Clementine. He doesn’t want to forget Clementine, but he’ll have to fight to keep her.

This bizarre-but-touching film does incorporate Columbia if you have a quick eye. You’ll recognize the Columbia bookstore from Jim Carrey’s scene in the erstwhile-Long Island Barnes & Noble, but notice the bookstore acts only as a stand-in. Columbia isn’t mentioned by name, in keeping with the preferences of the university. Too bad no one can be seen holding a Lit Hum boxed set.



Scouser Jude Feeny leaves for the United States on a quest to find his father. Winding up at Princeton, he befriends a well-to-do, smart, and rebellious student who introduces Jude to the counterculture. The pair move to New York and become part of the turbulent 60s scene, rubbing elbows with the great moments of the radical left movement.

Across the Universe has little going for it, unfortunately, other than the Beatles music strung loosely into the plot. Most of the history is only partially remembered correctly and sloppily dashed together. Case and point is the way Columbia is depicted — Jude winds up at the 1968 riots outside a brick Low Library balcony. Yeah, brick. Enjoy the music to his film and have a laugh at Columbia’s cameo, but that’s about it.


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  1. Alum

    "Columbia generally tries to avoid being mentioned by name in these movies, but here, the university features rather prominently in the plot."

    Saying "but" implies a contradiction where there is none. The campus is featured prominently in the film, but the unnamed university in the movie just happens to look a lot like Columbia. It has a board of regents and a department of parapsychology, neither of which Columbia has. Additionally, a fictitious name is used for what we all know as Havemeyer Hall.

  2. fan  

    i have to disagree on the "little going for it" sentiment on across the universe...
    or was i the only one that was blown away by it?

  3. 2150  

    ahh i didnt know columbia was in eternal sunshine! thats such a great movie!!

  4. woody allen movies  

    including: a midsummer's night sex comedy and hannah and her sisters

  5. l&o

    i just watch law and order when i need a columbia-on-tv fix

  6. I wonder...

    Why couldn't Jim Carey's crew just go to a Barnes and Nobles on Long Island or in some other suburban place? And why couldn't Adam Sandler's crew in Anger Management go to a real unused hospital somewhere instead of pretending that the ramps of Lerner Hall were the corridors of an infirmary? Are there just that many Columbia alumni in the film industry?

  7. you forgot  

    The Nanny Diaries!

    Scarlett Johansson sitting on the fountain, holding a Columbia class directory

  8. Mona Lisa Smile  

    supposed to be at Wellesley but the main classroom is 309 Havemeyer

  9. Also

    You forgot a Barb Streisand movie...yeah I know, don't say anything. The Mirror Has Two Faces. Streisand plays a Columbia (yes, Columbia, named) prof and there are plenty of shots of her teaching in the Hav. lecture hall. It's actually kind of a cute movie, if you can take ol' horse face for two hours.

  10. Hey Now  

    Don't forget about Spider-man, huge Columbia scenes in 1 and 2. Classics, really. I can see my room's window in Spider-man 2, when Peter's walking out of Hamilton!

  11. Jon  

    Thanks for the extra movie names, everyone. Unfortunately, because most are not available on Netflix's Watch Instantly! service, we were not able to consider them for inclusion in this feature.

  12. malcolm x  

    features malcolm owning some white chick before entering hamilton

  13. one more

    Overhead shot of the campus in the first few minutes of West Side Story...

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