The Browning Version (1994 film)
|The Browning Version|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mike Figgis|
|Produced by||Ridley Scott
Mimi Polk Gitlin
|Written by||Terence Rattigan (play)
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Edited by||Hervé Schneid|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|8 June 1994|
The Browning Version is a 1994 film directed by Mike Figgis and starring Albert Finney, Greta Scacchi and Matthew Modine. The film is based on the 1948 play by Terence Rattigan, which was previously adapted for film under the same name in 1951.
Andrew Crocker-Harris (Albert Finney) is a veteran teacher of Greek and Latin at a British Public school. After nearly 20 years of service, he is being forced to retire on the pretext of his health, and perhaps may not even be given a pension. He is disliked or ignored by the other teachers and while his pupils fear his relentlessly strict discipline, they are bored by his dictatorial but dreary and un-inspiring teaching methods. His younger wife Laura (Greta Scacchi), whom he has sexually and emotionally neglected, is unfaithful, and now lives to wound him any way she can. She is having an affair with Frank (Matthew Modine), an eager, young American science teacher who is highly popular with his pupils, much more lenient with class-room rules yet is able connect with the students. In his final class, Andrew, whilst reading from a Greek play, finally shows some genuine passion about the subject, giving a glimpse at the teacher he could have been. Andrew's nervous new replacement Tom (Julian Sands) expresses his awe at the ironclad control that the former exerts over his classes, but Andrew advises his young colleague not to follow his example.
As his retirement at the end of the school term draws near, Andrew is approached by a quiet and sensitive pupil named Taplow who has detected the unhappiness and loneliness of his teacher and makes an attempt to reach out to him, saying that Andrew's Latin teachings have inspired him. Taplow gives Andrew a gift- a rare copy of an early edition of the 'Browning Version'- the 1877 translation by Robert Browning of Aeschylus’ ancient play Agamemnon. Touched by this gesture, Andrew's emotional guard begins to be let down for the first time. Increasingly aware of Andrew's isolation, Frank feels guilty about the affair with Laura and ends the relationship. Shortly before the end-of-term school assembly in which Andrew will make his farewell speech, Laura tells her husband that she wants their marriage to end and that she intends to leave him.
The school's senior staff want Andrew to make his speech first, to be followed by the farewell speech of a younger, more popular teacher who is leaving to pursue a career as a cricket player. But Andrew insists on going second, even though the headmaster angrily says that it will give the ceremony an 'anti-climax'. To the surprise of everyone, including Laura who has lingered to watch the event, Andrew's speech is highly emotional and revelatory, apologising for his failures both as a teacher and as a person. Moved by the speech, the pupils and staff give Andrew a huge applause.
Andrew, as a parting gesture of gratitude, tells Taplow that he has organised a place for him in Frank's science class which the pupil had been eager to join. Laura has a newfound sense of respect for her husband and the two part on good terms. As he watches Laura drive away, Andrew sadly but calmly faces the next phase of his life.
- Best Actor (Albert Finney), Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (1994)
- Albert Finney as Andrew Crocker-Harris
- Greta Scacchi as Laura Crocker-Harris
- Matthew Modine as Frank Hunter
- Julian Sands as Tom Gilbert
- Michael Gambon as Dr. Frobisher
- Ben Silverstone as Taplow
- Jim Sturgess as Bryant (as James Sturgess)
- Joseph Beattie as Wilson
- Mark Bolton as Grantham
- Tom Havelock as Laughton
- Walter Micklethwait as Buller
- Jotham Annan as Prince Abakendi
- David Lever as David Fletcher
- Bruce Myers as Dr. Rafferty
- Maryam d'Abo as Diana
- Heathcote Williams as Dr. Lake
- Peter Hetherington as Williams
- Nick Cracknell as Nick
- Trevor Slack as Boy
The Browning Version received positive reviews from critics, as the film holds an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Dorset On Screen: A Report On The Use Of Dorset As A Film-TV Location Accessed 18 March 2011
- The Browning Version (1994) Accessed 18 March 2011
- "Festival de Cannes: The Browning Version". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-26.