Friday, February 08, 2008

The History Boys (2006)


The History Boys is a film based on the play by Alan Bennett of the same name. THE HISTORY BOYS tells the story of an unruly class of bright, funny history students in pursuit of an undergraduate place at Oxford or Cambridge. Bounced between their maverick English master (Richard Griffiths), a young and shrewd teacher hired to up their test scores (Stephen Campbell Moore). The film is wordy, and I really don't think that many adolescent boys talk the way they do in the film, but setting that aside the film is a really interesting look at educators and our youth. Easily compared to the film Dead Poet's Society, the History Boys is unable to shake its stagy origins, with claustrophobic settings and contrived dialogue. Yet what saves this movie are its actors. All are exceptional. There is Posner who is played by Samuel Barnett. Jamie Parker as the cheerful Scripps, the intense Lockwood played by Andrew Knott, the heavy set jokester Timms played by James Corden, and Russell Tovey who plays Rudge our sports enthusiast. I liked these characters, and they were worth watching. Hector is played by Richard Griffiths who is the boy’s teacher. Griffiths plays the part very well. Through his acting we see that Hector is very much an intellectual who has a tortured soul. Stephen Campbell Moore plays Irwin the other teacher who is hired to boost the boys scores for the entrance to the famed university Oxford. Moore plays Irwin as a younger version of Hector, but one with less experience. Irwin and Hector are two sides of the coin, and they play here in the film brilliantly.

The ideas and thoughts about life and history in the film is something to be taken and welcomed. The History Boys is a film that feels stagy, yet works onscreen. Maybe it's the directors use of hand held camera shots that make the shots in the classroom jump off on the screen, or maybe it's the music the director uses. The film takes place in the 80's and we hear several songs from that era. The History Boys is a film that has a lot to say, and at 109 minutes the film does fly by.

Another reviewer puts it this way:

"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."

- gradyharp

I totally agree on this part, and I think the film is worth watching. Sure it may be stagy and the dialogue contrived, but it all works, and the film comes alive onscreen. What better compliment for a film then it leaping off the screen and capturing our hearts. If you get a chance see this film. It is currently playing on HBO at Fri. Feb. 15 2:20 AM HBO and again on Wed. Feb. 20 12:55 AM HBO. Set the old VCR's or TiVo and watch a film I'm certain your like.

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