News Center

Hendrix Film Studies Professor Releases RUSHMORE

Dr. Kristi McKim’s new work explores Wes Anderson cult classic

Rushmore cover art w-credit.pngCONWAY, Ark. (October 19, 2023) — Hendrix film studies professor Dr. Kristi McKim’s new book RUSHMORE was released this month by the British Film Institute. The new work examines the 1998 cult classic by American director Wes Anderson and starring Bill Murray. The book is the latest entry in a line of classic film companion books.

“Kristi McKim’s compelling study of the film argues that despite the film’s titular call for haste and excess (rush/more), it challenges a drive toward perfectionism and celebrates the quiet connections that defy such passion and speed. After establishing Rushmore’s history and reception, McKim closely reads Rushmore’s energetic musical montages relative to slower moments that introduce tenderness and ambiguity, in a form subtler than Max’s desire-built drive or genre-based plays. Her analysis offers an urgent corrective to what might be perceived as an endearing portrait of privilege that perpetuates a status quo power. Drawing out Rushmore’s subtleties that soften, temper, ease, expand, and equalize the film’s zeal, she reads the film with a generosity learned from the film itself,” according to promotional information from Bloomsbury.

The book is available through Bloomsbury and Amazon.

McKim’s connection to the BFI Film Classics series began when she read Salman Rushdie’s book on The Wizard of Oz for an undergraduate literature course.

“I couldn’t believe the exciting new way that Rushdie approached film in ways that I’d only previously thought possible for literature,” she said. “Over the years, I’ve taught many books from the BFI Film Classics series, and I also read these books — beautifully-written, full of fascinating details and broader context — for pleasure.”

McKim_headshot_web.pngMcKim wrote the book in 2021 during a sabbatical.

“I wrote this book that draws from and builds upon the classroom experience of teaching Rushmore while in a space of remembering the classroom, of conjuring the spirit of those class meetings, how students usually respond strongly to the film, somewhere within the trajectory of affection, loathing, delight, bewilderment, and curiosity,” she explained. “Moreover, I came to appreciate how the film revises how we imagine learning to look and sound: it is a movie that is named for a beloved school and that features its protagonist’s move to a new school, and formal places of education define its structure. Yet learning seems more to happen outside of actual classrooms, within small gestures and beats of connection.”

McKim acknowledges a connection between the film and her own teaching environment at Hendrix College.

“I thought about how Rushmore features engaged learning at its best and worst,” said McKim. “[The film’s protagonist] Max Fischer embarks on what Hendrix might call Odyssey projects; he has clear goals but questionable means and motives, and I loved writing the book and thinking about where and how or whether he learns and, further, what this film about education teaches us, too.”

McKim’s research included examining newspaper articles to organize the artists’ and film’s timeline, which proved fascinating. Rushmore’s cowriters Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson met in college, where they were “rather eccentric and not exactly model students” and bonded over their shared love of film history. Rushmore is their second feature film.

“Researching this history becomes an exercise in registering how the accidental and fortuitous intersects with the worked-for and desired: Rushmore is both built of privilege (the Wilson family had key contacts in the film industry, and Oscar-winning producer James Brooks appreciated how Anderson ‘looks’ like a genius) and labor, as it is a film about privilege and labor, how entitlement and hard work do and do not yield desired ends,” said McKim.

“Most importantly, I came to appreciate how Rushmore is a film about small miracles and perfect timing, about the way that music can accentuate gestures that soften sharp edges, that the camera can draw attention to points of connection,” she said. “My repeated experience of Rushmore led me to feel wonder at its magic in what cannot be touched but felt, and ephemerally so. Much of the book thus emphasizes the magical timing between gestures and music, a way of sensitizing us to subtlety that outshines bolder actions.”

McKim added that studying Rushmore further led to a new understanding of the quickness that gives the film such tremendous verve and energy.

“I came to appreciate Rushmore as a film that celebrates being and having, creatively and communally, not as an escape from but an exercise of what’s hard and beautiful,” she said.

About Dr. Kristi McKim

Kristi McKim is Professor of English, Film and Media Studies at Hendrix College, where she has been honored with college-wide awards for both teaching and advising. She is the author of Rushmore (BFI Film Classics, 2023), Love in the Time of Cinema (2011) and Cinema as Weather: Stylistic Screens and Atmospheric Change (2013). Her published essays range from scholarly to personal, in journals including ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Senses of Cinema, New England Review, Camera Obscura, and Studies in French Cinema, and in collections including Screening American Independent Film; Mothers of Invention: Film, Media, and Caregiving Labor; and For the Love of Cinema. Her writing and teaching focus on film’s potential to enrich and reveal experiences and lives—human and nonhuman—otherwise unseen.

About Hendrix College

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges and celebrated among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges for academic quality, engaged learning opportunities and career preparation, vibrant campus life, and value. The Hendrix College Warriors compete in 21 NCAA Division III sports. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. Learn more at   

“… Through engagement that links the classroom with the world, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and sustainable living, the Hendrix community inspires students to lead lives of accomplishment, integrity, service, and joy.” —Hendrix College Statement of Purpose