Based on the life of the young Guy Burgess, who would become better known as one of the Cambridge Spies.Based on the life of the young Guy Burgess, who would become better known as one of the Cambridge Spies.Based on the life of the young Guy Burgess, who would become better known as one of the Cambridge Spies.
This contrasts starkly with the brutality of the school's disciplinary system, where one boy is so ashamed of being caught in a homosexual act that he hangs himself in the school chapel. Those who question the school's code become outcasts, such as Bennet and Judd, unless they are 'useful' in some way - ie when Judd is needed to prevent an unpopular boy becoming head of house.
One important fact I noticed is that you hardly ever see a master in the school, and you never see the boys in lessons: this shows Eton not as merely a school, but as a microcosm of society with its own specific hierarchy.
There is interesting character development: Bennett, initially a philanderer who takes nothing seriously, eventually realises that he is a confirmed homosexual and begins to understand Judd's vision of a perfect society possible through communism ('not heaven on earth, but earth on earth - a just earth')Similarly Judd realises that sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice one's principles for the greater good.
There is a lot about this film that is hackneyed - the bullying, sadistic prefects, the angelic boys with floppy fringes singing chapel anthems, the stock rebellious phrases etc, (and I won't even mention Guy Bennet's ludicrous old-man makeup)but overall it is a beautiful piece of cinematography with some good acting from the young Mr Everett and Mr Firth.
- Jan 22, 2002