US Release Date: 11-21-2006
Directed by: Nicholas Hytner
- Samuel Anderson, as
- James Corden, as
- Stephen Campbell Moore, as
- Richard Griffiths, as
- Frances de la Tour, as
- Mrs. Lintott
- Andrew Knott, as
- Russell Tovey, as
- Jamie Parker, as
- Dominic Cooper, as
- Samuel Barnett, as
- Sacha Dhawan, as
- Clive Merrison as
- The Headmaster
Richard Griffiths and Stephen Campbell Moore in The History Boys.
History Boys is a well-written and acted screen adaptation of the play of the same name. Set at a boy's prep school in Yorkshire, England in the early 1980's, it details the senior year for several students each of whom is preparing to (hopefully) attend Cambridge.
The group of boys are all familiar types. There is the everyman, the homosexual, the jock, the fat kid, the black kid and the charismatic free-spirit. There are also several teachers. The main one being a lovable old poof who teaches his class famous quotes from poetry and old movies, wanting to inspire them with beautiful ideas and words and not just to fill them up with facts. Unfortunately he can't stop himself from trying to cop a feel from his boys as he gives them, each in turn, a ride home on his motor scooter.
When a female crossing guard witnesses his impropriety the teacher is “asked” to resign. Fate, as it always does in movies, takes a different turn however, and the ending is a bit less predictable than you might expect.
There is also an understanding female teacher, a sexually ambiguous first year teacher, and the Headmaster who acts as the heavy.
The most interesting relationship in the movie is between the leader of the students and the new teacher, hired to tutor the boys for their Cambridge exams. The student is gorgeous and sexually light years ahead of the rest of the boys. He is straight (or more accurately bi) but has a genuine sexual flirtation with the new teacher who may or may not be gay.
I love old movies and movies that come from plays. They have dialogue and extended scenes that call for the actors to sustain their characters for scenes longer than most Hollywood movies, which are edited to within an inch of their celluloid lives.
Several of the cast members recreated their roles from the stage. The standout being Richard Griffiths. He deserves an Oscar or at the very least a nomination. He brings the pain and loneliness of his character vividly to life but manages to show his sheer joy and genuine affection for the boys he teaches and lusts after. The movie neither judges nor makes excuses for him but simply shows him as a real person.
Well worth seeing.
Andrew Knott and Russell Tovey in The History Boys
This movie is not "well worth seeing." After watching it, it is clear why it did not play well in middle America, where many people disagree with the sexual depravity so prevalent in the entertainment industry. The History Boys is written as a gay pedophile's wet dream. Have you ever heard or read an interview with a pedophile about his indiscretions. The one common thread throughout is that they all assume that the minor they had a sexual encounter with was completely willing for it to happen. It is their way of justifying their heinous act.
In The History Boys, a group of male teens all willingly take turns getting on a motorcycle with their teacher whom they know will touch them inappropriately. They do not all necessarily enjoy it, but they all allow it to happen because they just love the fat old queer so much. The movie further sides with the pedofile by acting as if he cares deeply for them all. If you truly care for someone you do not take advantage of them, as he does.
Then there is the character of Dakin, with whom Patrick wrote is, “...gorgeous and sexually light years ahead of the rest of the boys.” Whereas Patrick thinks a bi-curious teen is sexually advanced, I think he is sexually confused. Like the rest of the virgins in the classroom, he is just trying to figure it all out. The only thing that separates him from the others, is that he is more aggressive about it.
Without a doubt, someone reading this will consider me a homophobe, well fuck off if you do. This movie defends a pedophile by having the one and only confirmed heterosexual male in the movie grope a female. He is also shown to be an intellectual moron who never tells any of the boys parents about what happens on those rides home. Of course that would spoil the pedophile's dream of having a group of willing victims for him to assault.
As a movie, The History Boys lack in the most important way. There is no story arc. By the end of the movie, are any of the boys really any different? Sure they have studied their ass of for the test and interviews but has the events in this movie taught them anything, besides that they can blackmail their principle into keeping their perverted teacher on staff. The movie ends with a nicely done epilogue that explains what happens to all of the boys when they grow up. Staying true to a pedophile's warped view of the world, none of the boys grow up to be affected by their teacher having treated them as sexual playthings.
This movie defends pedophiles. Did NAMBLA put up the money for this film?
What point is this movie trying to make?
Not only are Hector's actions completely inappropriate, the reactions of his student are completely unrealistic. You're telling me that an entire class of students all just say, oh well that nice old teacher likes to touch my dick, but he's a really good teacher so we don't mind? And I also highly doubt this was the fist class Hector did this to, so it's also saying that generations of students have all thought the same thing. Imagine if it was a male teacher touching a female student? Would anyone be saying, oh that's okay, he's a good teacher so who cares if he cops a feel?
At the end of the movie, during the epilogue, one of the student says that he became a teacher and that it's a struggle for him to not touch his students, but he thinks that could be why he's such a good teacher. Seriously, WTF? So wanting to fuck your students makes you a better teacher? Just what the hell is this movie trying to say? Again, I'll go back to asking, what if that was a male teacher saying that about female students? Would anyone, anywhere be writing a movie where one of the protagonists said something like that then?
Putting aside the matter of the handsie old poof, I did enjoy some parts of this movie. I was rooting for the boys to all get into Oxford. The cast all do a good acting job. Most of the boys are likable and talented. And there are some funny moments to be found within the script.
And the student who fancies himself a stud, isn't bisexual at all. I doubt he ever would have gone all the way with the teacher. He just wanted to prove that he could make anyone want him. He thinks Irwin doesn't like him, so he does whatever it takes to make him like him.
But I keep coming back to one thought though and that is, what point is this movie trying to make? Not that it's okay to be gay, because if that was the point they wanted to make, they could have just said Hector was gay and it came out, but he shouldn't be fired just because of that; which is true. However, the only moral I can see this movie trying to make is that a good education is worth being groped by an old guy for. I guess that's what it's saying to students. To teachers I guess it's saying if you get the urge to molest or grope your students, it's okay, that just means you care.
Photos © Copyright British Broadcasting Corporation (2006)