In 1980s Britain, a group of young men at Cutlers' Grammar School all have the brains, and the will to earn the chance of getting accepted in the finest universities in the nation, Oxford and Cambridge. Despite the fine teaching by excellent professionals like Mrs Lintott in history and the intellectually enthusiastic Hector in General Studies, the Headmaster is not satisfied. He signs on the young Irwin to polish the students' style to give them the best chance. In this mix of intellectualism and creative spirit that guides a rigorous preparation regime for that ultimate educational brass ring, the lives of the randy students and the ostensibly restrained faculty intertwine that would change their lives forever. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Many of the extras in the film are also members of staff at the National Theatre in London (where Nicholas Hytner is the artistic director) who were invited to visit the set and have the chance of appearing in the finished film. See more »
The lollipop lady that reports Hector to the headmaster carries a sign that carries the international symbol for children, which has only recently started replacing the old sign that stated "STOP CHILDREN" - which would have been the sign used in 1983. See more »
At the beginning of the film, the title - "The History Boys" - is taken letter by letter from random parts of an essay on the dissolution of the monasteries, a common history topic, Which the History Boys themselves write later on in the film. See more »
A Brilliant Play Transforms Magically into a Brilliant Film
Anyone who can watch the rolling credits at the end of THE HISTORY BOYS without tearful eyes simply hasn't been paying attention to this intelligent, richly comic, philosophical and tender tale of eight boys ostensibly preparing for exams but also preparing for life. The writing by Alan Bennett closely adapted from his prize winning play that was on the boards of theaters around the globe before being captured for posterity on film is 'rich and strange' and so full of those values of achieving a true education that it serves not only the audience well but presents a gold standard for educators pondering how to transform their pupils into thinking, creative members of society.
Very briefly, THE HISTORY BOYS are eight brilliant but 'crass' young men in Cutler's Grammar School, each coming from backgrounds not considered 'quality' by the British class standards. These boys are rowdy but committed to gaining admission to Oxford - a step toward erasing their class standing and proving their worth. The headmaster (Clive Merrison), himself not too well educated, is bound to get these eight bright boys into the best schools and in that light he hires a new teacher Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) to buff the boys into a classy group who will be able to pass their essays and oral examinations. The existing teachers are the testy, frank Mrs. Lintott (a fine Frances de la Tour) and the massively obese Hector (Richard Griffiths in a stunning performance) who teaches 'general studies', a time when he lovingly coaxes the boys to embrace poetry, music, sentimentality, drama, art, and in general everything that allows them to take the moment and live it fully. The boys are torn between Irwin's pragmatic 'teach them how to take exams' approach Hector's teach them how to embrace intelligence and life. Hector is known among the boys for fondling and the knowledge is accepted by the lads until Hector is seen fondling one of the boys on his motorbike and reported. This opens all manner of avenues of introspection, one of the boys confides to Irwin that he is homosexual, another of the lads declares that Irwin is gay and attempts a physical liaison with him, and the permutations move an down the line. But the exams come and the joy of accomplishing goals puts a different twist on matters and the ending is a touching as any on film.
The entire cast is the original group that started the play and in addition to the fine performances by the adults, the boys are extraordinarily fine: Dominic Cooper (Dakin), Jamie Parker (Scripps), Samuel Barnett (Posner), James Corden (Timms), Sacha Dhawan (Akhtar), Samuel Anderson (Crowther), Russell Tovey (Rudge), and Andrew Knott (Lockwood). There is an obvious camaraderie among the actors that obviously grew from their long association with the roles. But the most impressive performance is the polished veteran actor Richard Griffiths who has created a role that will long remain in everyone's heart long after the movie has passed playing. For this viewer this is one of the very finest films of the past year! Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
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