The History Boys Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 14, 2012
Entertaining and humorous yet thought-provoking film with a wonderful cast and a brilliant soundtrack. Probably as far removed from reality as I am from Mars, but I don't mind.
Super Reviewer
½ December 18, 2010
I liked it better as The Dead Poets Society! This movie feels like an English transformation of The Dead Poets Society but at the end I do not want to stand on my desk a say, "Oh Captain, My Captain". It is not a pain or a bore to watch, but it just did not feel original.
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2010
Though the film lacks a central, driving conflict - a problem that we eagerly wait to be resolved - and its foray into a quickly abandoned sex scandal distracts from the best parts of the film, it is nevertheless an absolute pleasure to watch. The main characters are unflaggingly committed to the pleasures of the intellectual life, and the film replaces devotion of the "saving" teacher with a meditation on the question of intellect's usefulness. Headlined by Richard Griffiths's amazing performance, the cast is quite strong. This is surely a film to "pass on."
Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2007
Proficient but rather underwhelming adaptation of the stage play which had some implausible plot points and no flare. Well honed script and the context appealed to me though.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2008
i was extremely disappointed although an ok movie i didnt llike the storyline very well i found it a bit confusing and weird and a bit unrealistic!
This movie is funny and i did love the cast and their acting that was brilliant and i really love the ending it really got i really think that was a fantastic ending but i guess this movie isnt my cup of tea!
Its about a group of really smart lads trying to get into cambridge and oxford university and its sort of a coming of age learning thing sort of movie and its also got a teacher that torches the boys (which is the main poiint i dont understand as to why they would let hin do it) and a new teacher that tries to help them pass!
a watchable movie as it is funny and a fantastic cast!
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2007
After watching this film, I can say that it was really like no other movie I've ever seen before: in the "More Like This" section, I've tagged three of my faves (Dead Poets Society and School Ties) and a classic (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) as being similar, but I think they are only important as touchstones when trying to talk about this film, because it undoes a lot of the cliches of the "[Boarding] School for Boys" and/or "Great Teacher Movie" genre.

More than any similarly-minded films, The History Boys is about the students and not the teacher(s). In fact, making sure that there were four very different authority figures went a very long way to providing countless curious situations that, though not properly "exciting", were certainly exciting for the attempted anticipation of the results. It was kind of like a geneticist's punnett square: if this mixes with this, then we'll have this outcome... and if this meets that, then we'll have that outcome...

This was a very cerebral movie as well: accessible for its compassionate portrayal of eight young men and their intellectual (and sexual) awakenings, not to mention teachers equally on the upswing (Irwin) and downswing (Hector) of their careers, the film also says a great deal about history that I'm sure only my history-major friends could appreciate as schools of thought and epistemological theory related to "how to study" history. (Luckily, my background in literature studies helped me to at least understand Hector and his outmoded style of studying and teaching poetry.)

The historian Hayden White, for example, talks of the "emplotment" necessary when writing history. To recount a factual history, one must turn it into a narrative: Neville Chamberlain spoke for the appeasement of Adolf Hitler, which led to his consolidation of power, which led to the Second World War (etc.) - all narratives must have a sequence of events that makes sense, otherwise it's hard to accept the story. One paints some events as turning points, but they may be completely insignificant; as one of the boys in the film points out, Halifax was much more likely to become Prime Minister than Winston Churchill, but went to the dentist on the wrong day. If Halifax had had better teeth, would the war (and everything since) have turned out the same way? Who knows?

The discussion of history as "turning points", and it's contrasting characterization (from the supposedly dull boy, Rudge) as "just one thing after another" is a discussion that can be applied to the plot itself, which is the true brilliance of this film... looking back on the many contrasting moments, one has to ask oneself how the narrative worked: why the story was told the way that it was, and which moments (if any) are turning points? Is there a cause and effect relationship, or is this just one event stacked on top of another?

The film's ability to keep you hanging on insignificant plot points is a triumph, because you too must wait and see if, in the end, this moment will be a turning point. You'll reach the end, and you'll make a mental list, but you'll want to check it again by watching the moments unfold to see if they cause the ensuing events or merely precede them.

An excellent movie to purchase and watch over and over again, whether you've heard of Richard Rorty or not, the film carries a lot of its devices honed in the theatre (it's an adaptation of a play) onto the big screen, and is one that leaves many impressions on many levels... any of which, of course, may or may prove to be significant when one looks back on it the future.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2008
English high-school students seek to earn the scores needed to enroll in Oxford and Cambridge in writer Alan Bennett's witty screen adaptation of his Tony award winning play. Ensemble film wisely features the talented original London cast, however the film's moral confusion is unsettling.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2008
The story is probably based on some old piece of literature, but is actually about some boys at grammar school learning for there exam, its quite funny, and educational too, its not about rebellion, but its pretty good for adults.
Super Reviewer
February 29, 2008
I used to be a teacher. At one stretch of four years, I taught kids exactly this age. Trust me, you don't have to be a jackass to get into a good college. Are there any of these bozos I'd have wanted in my classes? Ah . . . no. The beauty of this movie lies in the use of great literature outside this movie. There is, unfortunately, a permeating ugliness of character, of dubious motivation, and of bungled vision that sinks this woefully attempted and dreadfully executed project into an abyss of heavily empty rhetoric and ponderously rancid overacting. A truly ugly black-hole of a mess all the way around. God this sucks hard. And it's particularly irritating because they import so much great literature only to drag all of it down with their sinking, stinking ship. Hey, these kids at Hogwarts. Hmmm . . . Without a doubt, they would be Voldemort's minions. No, wait, I take that back. Without any doubt whatsoever, Dumbledore would have them "disappeared."
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2008
So funny and differnt. Great laughs and a insight to guys feelings and how they see things like Uni and being gay.
Super Reviewer
December 29, 2007
Sure it has flaws, and bears no resenblance to my life now, or even what my life probably would've been like when it was set in the 80s, but personally I quite enjoyed it. Also, those people commenting on the 'paedophillia' should probably bear in mind that the boys have just passed their A levels, so they would probably be about 17/18 and therefore legal (or on the cusp for gay laws).
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2007
Average British version of Dead Poets Society, but all-boys Grammer of teenagers always talk about their way to adulthood.
Super Reviewer
March 31, 2007
This coming of age story set in an all boys grammar school was adapted from a stage play, and it really shows; the only attempts to cinematize it are a couple of clumsy montages and a dodgy 80s soundtrack. Not only that, having gone to an all-boys grammar school myself, I had a few problems with it. For one, the boys were all irritatingly glib and pretentious, and anyone who compares his attempts at sexual conquest to a WWI battle plan TO HER FACE would NEVER get laid! There were some funny parodies of teachers and their office politics (although Clive Merrison's headmaster was the butt of too many jokes based entirely in snobbery) but my biggest gripe was in the overt homo-eroticism of it all. It seemed to be saying that it's alright for a teacher to grope teenage boys as long as he's a bit of a laugh, and I found the idea of a (heterosexual) schoolboy offering his teacher the chance to "suck him off" as a reward for getting him through an exam utterly preposterous. There are some well written scenes and clever dialogue, but for me, it just felt far too much like a gay teacher's homo-erotic fantasy rather than believable drama.
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2007
Just an ordinary story, and the cast weren't great too... But it still worth to watch!!!
Super Reviewer
½ December 14, 2007
[font=Century Gothic]In "The History Boys," it is Yorkshire in 1983 and the A-level results have just been announced with several students having excelled enough that their next step is the entrance exams for Oxford and Cambridge. Preparation classes are taught by Mr. Hector(Richard Griffiths) in general studies(he has a reputation for putting his hand on the knees of students while riding his motorcycle) and Ms. Lintott(Frances de la Tour) in history. Their first assignment is an essay on the Reformation but the headmaster(Clive Merrison) feels that may not be enough as he brings in another teacher, Mr. Irwin(Stephen Campbell Moore).[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]With "The History Boys," Alan Bennett adapts his own play for the big screen. While he does manage to open it up, the movie is populated with broadly drawn characters, particularly the headmaster. And the character of Hector is problematic at best and a plot device at worst. I know he is meant to be seen as sweet(he is misidentified as gay) but he seriously creeps me out.(If I feel that way, you could imagine how a parent might feel.)[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]The movie does recall "Dead Poets Society" in its running educational debate of imparting knowledge versus admissions into a top university.(One drawback of getting into such a school is that it might lead to intellectual snobbery.) Since this is a universal and continuing conflict, it is unnecessary to date the movie to 1983, except that the music was cooler back then. And even with how important learning in a classroom is, an education does not stop at graduation but is an ongoing process.[/font]
Super Reviewer
½ October 31, 2011
No big deal, but not bad also.
Richard Griffiths did a very good job.
The end is quite good.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2008
The advertising for this movie is interesting because it never mentions the homosexual theme of the movie, which is clearly a HUGE theme. The movie itself was in parts a lot of fun, but it was more *made up of* great scenes, instead of being good as a whole. The plot felt scattered, and uncertain of what it really wanted to do.
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2007
History. It's just one fucking thing after another.Absolutely loved this film, based on the stage play of the same name (and using the original cast). Really wonderful performances from everyone, even Richard Griffiths whom I normally can't stand. A testament to the high quality of this film is that I adored it even though the first time I saw it I was on a plane: If there's ever a death for a film to a viewer, it's if it's watched in a cramped environment at 30000 feet with some kid kicking your chair from behind you, and a 70 year old grandmother with apparent ADD continually adjusting the position of her seat in front of you, causing your very hot beverage to spill over your jeans. Twice. (I Kid you not.)Anywho, back to the film. It's brilliantly written of course (penned by Alan Bennett), unflashily directed and very well performed. A coming of age tale that deals with subjects such as sexuality, education, "belonging", and hell, growing up, in a refreshing and honest way. I've rarely seen the concept of knowledge for knowledge's sake shown on screen so strongly, and movingly, before. All this, and you get a stunning version of "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" performed by Rufus Wainwright over the end credits. "The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours."
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2006
A well-acted but somewhat smug and stagnant character drama.
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