This week in history: 6th – 12th January

Will Hunting writing equations on a blackboard

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On the 9th of January, 1997 two friends from Cambridge, Massachusetts, became stars overnight with Good Will Hunting. This was Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s breakthrough in acting and screenwriting and the movie that lifted them from character actor parts in films like Mystic Pizza and Glory Days to A-list roles. Not to mention winning both of them a Best Screenplay Academy Award.

Originally written as a thriller, Good Will Hunting developed into a character piece about a mathematical genius who works as a janitor at MIT and his relationship with his therapist (played by the fantastic Robin Williams). The modestly budgeted film that started on only $10 million went on to gross over $200 million worldwide. The student and mentor relationship story at the heart of the film had certainly been seen before, but Director Gus Van Sant brought a freshness to the storytelling, and locals Affleck and Damon felt like they had lived in the roles their whole lives.

On a less-than-light note, on the 9th of the same month back in 1943 a film named Hitler’s Children was released. This black and white film is known for its portrayal of the brutalities carried out by the Hitler Youth, in particular focusing on two young participants. A huge hit in America at the time, Hitler’s Children turned a $205, 000 budget into a $1.21 million profit.

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