Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cinema Comments

The History Boys
(Film based on the Play)

This film is directed by Nicholas Hytner and written by Alan Bennett based on his award-winning play. It is a mesmerizing meditation on the meaning of education, history and life. Set in a boys' school in northern England in the early 1980's Bennett creates characters that share wonderfully witty dialogue as they attempt to learn about life, love and themselves; all whilst studiously preparing for the entrance exams and interviews for admittance to Oxford & Cambridge. The boys effortlessly quote Auden, Larkin and Hardy while melding popular culture, enthusiastically acting out cinema endings and singing songs, with their more serious studies; all under the tutelage of their professorial mentor played with grace and tremendous humanity by Richard Griffiths. Bennett's dialogue positively sparkles and borders on the Shakespearian, that is when it is not directly quoting the Bard. The acting by the boys is quite natural; the lead boys, Dakin, Posner and Scripps are especially convincing. I enjoyed reading the screenplay which stands on its own and is a wonderful complement to the film (which bears repeated viewings). It is fascinating the way the screenplay was edited for the final film production. This is definitely my favorite film of 2006. It contains four of my favorite things in life: music, poetry, history and boys.

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