The History Boys (film)

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The History Boys
The History Boys (film).JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Produced by Damian Jones
Kevin Loader
Nicholas Hytner
Written by Alan Bennett
Starring Richard Griffiths
Clive Merrison
Frances de la Tour
Stephen Campbell Moore
Samuel Anderson
Samuel Barnett
Dominic Cooper
James Corden
Sacha Dhawan
Andrew Knott
Jamie Parker
Russell Tovey
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Edited by John Wilson
Production
  company
BBC Two Films
DNA Films
UK Film Council
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s) 13 October 2006 (2006-10-13)
Running time 104 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £2 million
Box office $11,121,000

The History Boys is a 2006 British comedy-drama film adapted by Alan Bennett from his play of the same name, which won the 2005 Olivier Award for Best New Play and the 2006 Tony Award for Best Play. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner, who directed the original production at the Royal National Theatre in London, and features the original cast of the play.

The school scenes were filmed in Watford in the two grammar schools, Watford Grammar School for Boys and Watford Grammar School for Girls. The film uses the uniform of Watford Boys. Locations in Elland and Halifax, West Yorkshire are used to create the broader landscape of Sheffield in which the story is set.

Plot[edit]

In a boys' grammar school in Sheffield in 1983, students Crowther, Posner, Dakin, Timms, Akthar, Lockwood, Scripps, and Rudge have recently obtained the school's highest ever A-level scores and are hoping to enter Oxford or Cambridge, taking a seventh-term entrance exam in History. The General Studies teacher, known by staff and boys alike by his nickname "Hector" (Richard Griffiths), is their favourite, and works alongside their deputy head and regular History teacher, Mrs Lintott (Frances de la Tour).

The headmaster, Felix (Clive Merrison), hires a contract teacher named Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) to assist Hector and Mrs Lintott in preparing the boys for the Oxbridge entrance exams. Irwin's style is utterly different from Hector's and Mrs. Lintott's.

As the plot progresses we learn that Hector habitually offers some of his students rides home on his motorcycle and surreptitiously fondles his passengers. The boys have all come to a mutual understanding on the subject and, while mildly annoyed, laugh off their teacher's advances. This practice eventually lands Hector in trouble as he is seen by a lollipop lady who just happens to see Hector and one of the boys on his motorcycle at a crossroads. The headmaster insists that Hector retire early, and also that Hector and Irwin share a class; when they do, the group engages in a tense discussion about subjects such as about how best to analyse the Holocaust.

As part of their General Studies the class acts out scenes from romantic films and literature, and Posner (Samuel Barnett) sings a love song – Rodgers and Hart's "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" – which he pointedly directs towards Dakin (Dominic Cooper). Dakin, who characterises himself as an aspiring lecher, is currently pursuing an affair with the headmaster's secretary, Fiona (Georgia Taylor). He is not displeased by Posner's attention, but finds himself interested in Irwin. Gradually, Dakin's quest to impress Irwin on an intellectual level evolves into a flirtatious, potentially sexual pursuit of his young teacher – who is visibly attracted to Dakin.

After interviews, it seems that they have all gained Oxbridge places, except for the group's gauche sportsman, Rudge (Russell Tovey). When Mrs Lintott questions him, it turns out that Rudge had already been told at interview that he has a place at Christ Church, due to a family connection with the Oxford college (Rudge's father had once worked there).

Dakin approaches Irwin in his classroom after the celebrations and reveals that he found no record of Irwin's attendance at Corpus, the Oxford college he claimed as his alma mater, and Irwin confesses that he lied about his past. Dakin then invites Irwin to give him a blowjob. They make an appointment to "have a drink" on Sunday.

Dakin then proceeds to the Headmaster's office and, by threatening to reveal Felix's own sexual harassment of Fiona, forces him to reinstate Hector.

The boys prepare to leave the grammar school at the end of that term, and Hector agrees to give Dakin a ride home on the motorbike "for old times' sake". However, before they leave, the headmaster runs out and stops them, saying that Hector should not take one of the boys. He suggests that Hector take Irwin instead. Dakin gladly hands the helmet to him, and the screen fades to white as they drive off, the boys waving happily and laughing.

A few days later, it is revealed that the bike was in an accident on the way home, possibly caused by Irwin (never before having ridden on the back of a motorbike) leaning the wrong way on a corner. Irwin was badly injured and suffered total memory loss of his conversation with Dakin; Hector did not survive. At the memorial service, the boys sing "Bye Bye Blackbird" and the headmaster gives a trite eulogy. The scene then changes abruptly to an almost empty hall with only the eight boys and Mrs. Lintott present. "Will they come to my funeral, I wonder," Mrs Lintott remarks, before recounting the futures of the eight boys. They have entered a variety of careers. Akthar is a headmaster, Crowther a magistrate, Timms the owner of a dry cleaning chain who takes drugs at weekends, and Dakin a tax lawyer. Lockwood (Andrew Knott), who entered the army, died as a result of friendly fire at the age of 28 while serving as a lieutenant in the York and Lancaster Regiment (an infantry regiment that was actually disbanded in 1968). Rudge became a builder, Scripps a journalist, and Irwin has stopped teaching and becomes a maker of TV history documentaries. Finally, Posner reveals he has become a teacher who followed in Hector's footsteps, with a similar style and teaching methods, regarded as "a bit of a stock figure" who does "a wonderful school play", but does not "touch the boys", which he admits is "always a struggle."

The film ends with a collection of moments involving Hector, leading up to the moment that a photograph of the entire class was taken at Fountains Abbey, a scene from earlier in the film.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

According to Time,[1] the film is better than the original play, as the transformation to film improved the 'flow and intimacy' of the production, while preserving the messages it seeks to convey. Rolling Stone[2] notes that some sense of familiarity with the subject of the film is lost in the cutting of nearly an hour from the original play, but the dialogue remains witty and pointed as is the customary style of the author. New York[3] describes the film as 'brilliant and infectious', and filled with Alan Bennett's customary deadpan humour. The author writes as though he simultaneously envies the extrovert characters he has created, yet is happy to stand apart from them. Hector's classes ramble, but manage to inspire the boys to the extent that they are pleased to adopt his approach to learning, and contentedly go along with his eccentric behaviour. The film is peppered with literary references and carries an encouragement to engage with life.

Awards[edit]

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures named The History Boys one of the Top Ten Films in its 2006 awards.[4]

The film was nominated for the 2007 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release.[5]

Griffiths and de la Tour received BAFTA nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

Soundtrack[edit]

Title[6] Performed by[6]
"L'Accordéoniste" Samuel Barnett, Jamie Parker
"Bewitched" Samuel Barnett, Jamie Parker
"Now Voyager" Jamie Parker
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor – Adagio Sostenuto Jamie Parker
"Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye)" Cast
"Bye Bye Blackbird" Samuel Barnett, Jamie Parker, cast
"Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye)" Gracie Fields
"Blue Monday" New Order
"This Charming Man" The Smiths
"Mustapha Dance" The Clash
"Never Stop (Discothèque)" Echo & the Bunnymen
"A Forest" The Cure
"Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag" Pigbag
"Bewitched" Rufus Wainwright

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schickel, Richard (22 November 2006). "TIME review". TIME. Retrieved 17 April 2007. 
  2. ^ "The History Boys". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 April 2007. 
  3. ^ "The History Boys". New York. Retrieved 17 April 2007. 
  4. ^ "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures :: Awards". Retrieved 7 December 2006. 
  5. ^ "GLAAD: 18th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Nominees". Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 22 February 2007. 
  6. ^ a b "IMDB – The History Boys – Soundtrack". Retrieved 18 August 2009. 

External links[edit]