The PhD Movie03 November 2011
Spoiler warning: Plot details are included below. Do not read on if you hate surprises being spoiled.
Last night I had the delight of seeing a preview screening of the new PhD Movie, which is based on the Piled Higher and Deeper comic strip. This strip is a fairly accurate (although obviously exaggerated in detail) of PhD life, and if you have ever read the strip the movie is worth seeing. If you are planning on reading some back-strips, I think it is best to just read strips from this year rather than the whole past archive, as the movie does seem rather biased towards strips from around 2-3 years ago. Since the plot lines in the comic strip are fairly independent of each other, little attention is paid to the chronological order of sub-stories.
On the whole the movie is a fairly direct translation of the comic strip into film, although as with all comic-to-film conversions details do get changed and/or dropped. There are places where it seems semi-important details were deliberately left out as a nod to people who (like me) have in the past read the entire 5+ years of the comic. On the other hand there are several notable changes and new additions, some of which are very noticeable. The most prominent ones, in my mind, being:
- In the time-frame shown in the movie, the Nameless Hero is presented as a pre-PhD research assistant dogsbody, rather than as a PhD.
- A potential love interest between Cecilia and an undergraduate, while fairly prominent in the movie, did not appear in the comic strip. In the strip Cecilia did have a relationship, but that plot arc was about how relationships fall apart when stretched to long distances.
- The lab No.2 seems much like Mariko from some of the very early (pre-colour) strips, with who the Nameless Hero had a (non-mutual) crush on. This does somewhat put the near-end scene where she gets (briefly) kissed in new light.