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)
In the scene following the reenactment of the final scene of "Now Voyager" with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid, a picture of Bette Davis is clearly visible over Hector's shoulder. See more »
The locker room at the school has a passive Infra red detector clearly visible over one of the doors more recently used for intruder alarm systems. This type of device would not have been available until the early 1990s. See more »
[discussing Posner liking Dakin]
Oh, Pos, with your spaniel heart. It will pass.
Yes, it's a phase. Who says I want it to pass? But the pain, the *pain*.
Hector would say it's the only education worth having.
Yes. I just wish there were marks for it.
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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 »
The English duo of Nicholas Hytner and Alan Bennett last collaborated on 1994's Oscar and BAFTA winning THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE. This 2006 collaboration abbreviates Bennett's own 2004 Royal National Theatre play into a fast- moving account of how a group of Yorkshire teenagers from a state school pass the now defunct Oxford/Cambridge entrance exam. This is England in 1983. It's the zenith of Thatcherism. It was also the year of the film EDUCATING RITA, in which a working class housewife betters herself through an Open University degree. Things have obviously changed in the country since the Victorian times of Thomas Hardy's JUDE THE OBSCURE, where university is not a thing for the working class.
But the social, political and cultural milieu of the era is kept in the background (it's much less evocative than THIS IS ENGLAND, made the same year and also set in 1983). This is as much a fantasy of education as DEAD POET'S SOCIETY. These are classes full of the expectational, bright and articulate. Bennett never really finds the authentic voice of the 18-year olds - they speak the words of older, wiser men. But the performances - Richard Griffiths, Stephen Campbell Moore and Frances De La Tour as the teachers tutoring them in various ways towards university and, amongst other a pre-stardom Domonic Cooper and James Corden as the students - are uniformly excellent. The dialogue is witty in its observations on the education system and the purpose of education. Bennett's own adaptation wisely drops the two flashes forward which opened the play's first and second acts (Campbell Moore's character as a TV historian in the present day).
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