The film opens with the sound of honking. The camera expertly maneuvers between 50 bikes at a standstill around the Circle of Death – the one between the Clock Tower and the Language Corner. Bikes don’t have horns, making this scene’s sound effects unnecessary, but honking just adds to the general air of frustration. Anyways, the camera weaves through these bikes while a few peppy piano notes begin to play.
Ignoring the fact that she will be late to lecture if these freshmen keep blocking traffic, a young woman begins to sing, introducing the opening number, “Another Day of P-sets.” Her neighbors casually get off their bikes and join in until pretty soon, the whole crowd has joined the chorus, engaging in a spontaneous yet well-choreographed and perfectly synchronized dance number. Bystanders do the wave. On the last note of the song, all participants drop their buoyant smiles, remount their bikes and head off in various directions.
We now return to a suite in Roble. The girl who started the whole flash mob thing earlier is sitting in a beanbag chair, furiously typing into Eclipse. Her roommates surround her, all complaining about the same 106A assignment. We learn that the girl’s name is Lilly. She wears colorful outfits, and the entire audience begins to root for her. They have no idea why or what her goal is, but they want her to find happiness.
Lilly has been working on this assignment for eight consecutive hours without food or bathroom breaks, and she is now on the verge of tears. Attempting to cheer her up, her three friends start to tell her about the LAIR. Lilly has never heard of this and is hesitant to try it out. Her indecision obviously prompts the other girls to break out into the second musical number, “Some Error in the Code.” The four of them continue singing all the way over to Old Union, where the LAIR tutors quickly join in. Tap dancing ensues.
A year passes.
Lilly is next seen checking out a career fair in White Plaza. Computer science seems to be a major desired by all Bay Area companies, but Lilly has not yet declared it due to commitment issues and a general fear of the future. She wanders past free swag as four melancholy piano notes begin to play a melody that will stay in everyone’s heads for the rest of their lives. She looks with angst at the people surrounding her and begins “Valley of Silicon,” a contemplative solo about startups and free t-shirts.
More time passes. Lilly graduates from Stanford. It is super unclear how the rest of her undergraduate experience went.
The graduation ceremony has just ended. Lilly wanders through the Quad and gazes up at Memorial Church. A moment of introspection, then the final number – “Graduation (The Fools Who Dream).” The screen fades to a montage that shows what would have happened had Lilly decided to major in CS.
The song ends, and Lilly takes a moment to reflect aloud on her four years at Stanford, ultimately concluding that it in the end, it wouldn’t have worked out with CS. Her final major, German Studies, would ultimately support her during all of life’s ups and downs and remember most of their anniversaries.
She meanders past the Engineering Quad feeling grateful for the personal growth she experienced throughout her former relationship with the CS department. She is also happy for the academic life she has led thus far and is optimistic that CS would find someone new. All of these complex emotions are conveyed in Lilly’s facial expressions.
A soft smile. The camera pans away, slowly and strategically incorporating beautiful aerials of Stanford’s campus. The school logo flashes, but quickly. So quickly that the audience doesn’t remember seeing it but has still internalized the image and will immediately start their applications for the class of 2022. The now iconic piano notes from “Valley of Silicon” begin as the screen fades to black.
Contact Georgina Grant at gagrant ‘at’ stanford.edu.