it's just one f**king thing after another"
After passing their A-Levels with flying colours, Dakin (Cooper),
Timms (Corden), Akthar (Dhawan), Lockwood (Knott), Posner (Barnett), Rudge
(Tovey) and Scripps (Parker) are to be prepared for the entrance exams for
Oxford and Cambridge. The Headmaster (Merrison) decides to hire specialist
help to back up teachers Hector (Griffiths) and Mrs Lintott. That man is
Tom Irwin (Campbell), a history teacher opens the boys to a new way of learning
and one that will prepare them not just for university but for life itself.
An award winning play doesn't always made a good movie but
can Alan Bennett's 'The History Boys' capture the essence of what made it
such a hit on Broadway and the West End?
Director David Hytner and writer Alan Bennett join forces
again for another cinematic adaptation of a their own stage play after their
brilliant collaboration in 1994 with 'The Madness of King George'. After
winning numerous stage awards, Bennett and Hytner transfer the play to the
silver screen and use the same cast that made the story of Sheffield schoolboys
trying to get into Oxford and Cambridge such a hit at The National Theatre.
With everything in place you would think that this would be a sure fire
hit and a film destined to be a British classic but you would be wrong.
While there is nothing wrong with the way the play transfers
onto the silver screen or with the performances of the exceptionally talented
cast, it is the plotline of the latter part of Allan Bennett's play that
is disturbing and in essence completely wrong.
Set in a Grammar school in Sheffield in 1983, 'The History
Boys' is the story of star pupils Dakin, Timms, Akthar, Lockwood, Posner,
Rudge and Scripps and their preparation of the entrance exams for Oxford
and Cambridge. As well as the boys we are introduced to their teachers Mr.
Hector, Mrs. Lintott and the new man brought in especially to get them through
Tom Irwin. We are first introduced to their camaraderie and the usual approach
in teaching methods used by Hector and Irwin, which promotes creativity
and ignites a passion for learning. This part of the story is funny, as
the boys and teachers impart their knowledge and voice their opinions on
history and the other subjects they need to cram before those all-important
exams. Their dreams, hopes, loves and lusts are all discussed as the boys
not only decide on their futures but start their adult lives. This is the
usual coming of age affairs but it is the storyline that is introduced in
the latter part of the movie that completely ruins all this good early work.
This plotline is missing or not mentioned in the publicity
material or reviews of the play or the film but it should be mentioned,
even though some may argue it is because the boys are over the age of sixteen.
Richard Griffiths' Hector gives rides home to one of the boys each night
after school and in what is introduced as a joke at first becomes a disciplinary
matter when he is seen groping one of the boys on the back of his motorbike.
This then sends the movie on a path that is completely wrong. Only the Headmaster
sees this as an offence with the rest of the staff and even some of the
boys seeing nothing wrong with the fact that what Hector has been doing
is immoral. There is nothing wrong with having a gay story line but when
it is between a teacher and a pupil, when that person is in a position of
trust it doesn't matter what the sexuality of the people involved are, it
is still wrong. This completely ruins the film.
'The History Boys' might be filled with exceptional performances
from the young cast and have a funny and interesting plot for the first
two thirds of the film but it cannot get past the fact that the Hector plotline
is just wrong on so many levels. It could also be argued that boys from
Sheffield wouldn't act the way the History Boys act when it came to performing,
learning and their attitude and reactions towards the revelations about
Hector, especially in 1983. For those of you hoping for a comedy drama film
about life and education will be extremely disappointed because just descends
into soap opera-like melodrama.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
movie is presented well.
Commentary with director Nicholas Hytner and writer Alan Bennett
The man behind the helm and the man who created 'The History Boys' explain
how the structure of a film is completely different to that of a stage
play. The pair go into character breakdowns and they talk about the history
of the actors involved and filming in a real school in Watford. This is
a decent commentary that fans will enjoy.
The History Boys around the World: Tour Diaries (14.11 mins)
Dominic Cooper and James Corden record video diaries as the cast and crew
of the stage version of 'The History Boys' travel around the world. Here
we see them in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and New York and then
returning to London for the film premiere.
Pass It On: The History Boys on the Screen (12.44 mins)
Director Nicholas Hytner, writer Alan Bennett, producer Kevin Loader and
stars Stephen Campbell Moore, Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour, James
Corden, Sacha Dhawan, Dominic Cooper, Samuel Barnett, Jamie Parker and
Russell Tovey talk about the development of the script from the play,
the themes of the story and the differences between stage and screen.
Previews of 'The Queen', 'The Last King of Scotland', 'Notes on a Scandal'
and 'Rocky Balboa'
This is a decent package for fans of 'The History Boys' to enjoy. The
commentary is good and the interviews and video diaries are informative,
making this a good DVD for fans of the film.
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