10 Best Dark Academia Aesthetic Movies That Will Inspire You

visual collage with the best scenes from the dark academia aesthetic movies

Do you like dark academia aesthetic? It is a stunning subculture that has been taking the internet by storm in recent years. One of the most enchanting aspects of dark academia is its influence on cinema. If you are enchanted by the vibe, you'll love this list of the 10 best dark academia aesthetic movies. These movies are full of mystery, intrigue, and a love of learning. They'll transport you to another world, where you can indulge your inner scholar and explore the darker side of human nature.

  • "Dead Poets Society" (1989)

"Dead Poets Society" is a timeless classic that explores the transformative power of literature and poetry. Set in an elite all-boys preparatory school, the film follows the charismatic English teacher John Keating, portrayed by Robin Williams. Keating inspires his students to break free from societal expectations and embrace the beauty of words and ideas. This film captures the essence of Dark Academia by highlighting the passion for learning and the pursuit of individuality.

  • "If..." (1968)

A cult classic directed by Lindsay Anderson, "If..." is a surreal and subversive portrayal of a British boarding school. The film blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, following the rebellious actions of a group of students who resist the oppressive authority of their school. This dark academia aesthetic movie tries to challenge social norms, exploring themes of rebellion and individuality.

  • "Maurice" (1987)

Set in the early 20th century, "Maurice" is a beautiful exploration of love and identity in an era when societal norms repressed same-sex relationships. Based on E.M. Forster's novel, the film follows the journey of Maurice Hall as he navigates his feelings for another man. "Maurice" not only delves into the complexities of love but also captures the aesthetic of the time, making it a visually stunning dark academia film.

A scene from the Dead Poets Society film
A scene from the Dead Poets Society film

  • "Kill Your Darlings" (2013) 

"Kill Your Darlings" is a biographical drama that delves into the Beat Generation and the early lives of iconic writers Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs. Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ginsberg, the film explores their friendship, creative ambitions, and involvement in a murder that shaped their lives. With its exploration of literature, rebellion, and intellectual awakening, "Kill Your Darlings" is a must-watch for those interested in the intersection of academia and counterculture.

  • "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (1975)

Peter Weir's enigmatic film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" is a haunting tale of mystery and disappearance set in 1900. A group of schoolgirls goes missing during a picnic, and the film explores the impact of their disappearance on the school and the surrounding community. With its dreamlike cinematography and eerie atmosphere, "Picnic at Hanging Rock" embodies the eerie and enigmatic side of dark academia.

  • "The Great Gatsby" (2013)

While many may associate "The Great Gatsby" with the Roaring Twenties and not dark academia, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation offers a unique blend of both aesthetics. The film brilliantly captures the decadence and disillusionment of the Jazz Age while also delving into the themes of obsession, ambition, and unrequited love. Its opulent visuals and poignant storytelling make it a must-watch for dark academia enthusiasts.

  • "Possession" (1981)

"Possession," directed by Andrzej Żuławski, is a dark and intense exploration of obsession and existential crisis. The film follows the disintegrating marriage of a couple played by Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. Set against a backdrop of Cold War-era Berlin, "Possession" is a disturbing and visually striking film that delves into the depths of the human psyche, making it a unique addition to the dark academia genre.

  • "Stoker" (2013)

Directed by Park Chan-wook, "Stoker" is a modern Gothic thriller that takes inspiration from the works of Alfred Hitchcock. The film tells the story of India Stoker, a young woman who becomes infatuated with her mysterious uncle after her father's death. "Stoker" combines elements of psychological suspense with dark family secrets, resulting in a visually stunning and psychologically gripping dark academia film.

A scene from "The Picture of Dorian Gray" movie
A scene from "The Picture of Dorian Gray" movie

  • "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945)

Based on Oscar Wilde's classic novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is a tale of vanity, decadence, and the consequences of a life lived without moral restraint. George Sanders delivers a memorable performance as Dorian Gray, a man whose portrait ages while he remains youthful and morally corrupt. This film's exploration of the consequences of one's actions and the allure of eternal youth makes it a fitting addition to the list of best dark aesthetic movies.

  • "Eva" (2018)

"Éva" is a French film that delves into the world of art and academia. The story revolves around Alex, a young pianist who becomes captivated by Eva, a brilliant and enigmatic art historian. The film explores the complexities of creativity, obsession, and the blurred lines between reality and imagination. With its lush cinematography and intellectual themes, "Éva" is a hidden gem in the world of dark academia vibe.

Wrapping Up...


Dark academia aesthetic movies offer viewers a journey into the past, a celebration of intellectual pursuits, and a deep dive into the complexities of human nature. Whether you're a literature enthusiast or simply looking for a taste of the intellectual and the mysterious, these movies are sure to inspire and transport you to a world where academia, art, and aesthetics converge in a beautifully dark symphony. 
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