My Life in Film – Ms Harms (CHS Teacher, Drama & Theatre)

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Ms Clare Harms, Director of Drama

The Railway Children (1970)

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My first memory of going to the cinema was when I was about 4 or 5 and on holiday in Cornwall. I was taken to see The Railway Children by my mum and was absolutely transported by the experience. This was a time of black & white TV so to see something on a huge screen in colour was completely new and wondrous.

I was so taken in that apparently, during one of the later scenes where the children are in the tunnel and the train is coming, I shouted “Look out!” at the screen, thinking that the children could hear me! It has since been turned into a theatre production performed as King’s Cross Station with real steam trains. Hmmm- now there’s an idea for my next production!

The Crucible (1996)

The Crucible 1996 poster

When I was in Year 10 at school I was cast as Elizabeth Proctor in the school production of Arthur Miller’s world famous play about the witch hunts in Salem, Massachusetts. This was my introduction to performing. It is brilliantly written and the characters are so rounded and real that they are a joy to bring to life. This was also my first choice for the very first play that I directed here at CHS, back in November 2000 so it has additional special meaning for me.

This wonderful film version had the screenplay written by Miller so it feels very true to the original, and it stars probably the best British actor of my generation.

(Daniel Day Lewis actually lived opposite me when I was growing up in London, so I like to imagine some kind of link there! I think we did meet once…?)


West Side Story (1961)

West Side Story 1961 film poster

There is no question that this is THE BEST MUSICAL IN THE WORLD! If you think anything else then you’re just mistaken. There have been many film versions of musicals over the years: some brilliant (Grease!, My Fair Lady) and some pretty awful (Guys & Dolls). But this is a superb film, as well as an outstanding musical, and still has the power to reduce me to floods of tears even though I’ve probably seen it 25 times and have directed it twice.

I think that I was about 14 or 15 when I first saw this film on TV. I was completely captivated from the first sweeping panoramic shots of New York City (once again this amazing city features in my list), coupled with the iconic strains of the amazing music by Leonard Bernstein, through the brilliant choreography scene after scene, to the end where I was reduced to a quivering, sobbing, mess.

Brazil (1985)


This film came out when I was just going into university so I think I probably associate it with that big change in my life. It was written and directed by Terry Gilliam, of Monty Python fame. Tom Stoppard, a very well-known British playwright also co-wrote the screenplay. It shows a dystopian, Orwellian type society where horrendously inefficient bureaucracy and technology rules everyone’s life.

It’s crazy and weird and funny and sad (and a tad overlong) but well worth a watch!

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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This for me is the quintessential ‘rom-com’ and nothing else even comes close. I moved to Manchester in August 1989 and this film was the very first one I saw in this city. I went with some girl friends from my PGCE teacher training course to CineCity in Withington, which was a real dive and nothing like the fancy multiplexes that we now have, and we laughed and cried in equal measure throughout the film.