Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usSet in 1983, in a Yorkshire grammer school, this film tells the story of a group of teenage boys trying to get into Oxford and Cambridge. Their headmaster who wants them to get a bit of polish as they are a little on the “crass” side, and the their various teachers, and teaching styles. Oh, and it also makes you side with someone who could be classified as a paedophile. Knew that’d get your interest.

The play that this film is based on has won plenty of awards, and I can see the reason, as it is a funny, but touching film. The actors are all great, and perfectly cast, and I really enjoyed it. But it did seem a little far fetched to me. Mainly because I don’t believe that gay students and teachers would have been so accepted in the time it was set in.

But ignoring that one issue, I’d highly recommend this film. It flows really well, you barely notice the time passing, and it also brings up some interesting points.
What is history? Is it just one fucking thing after another? I think so, but that doesn’t mean that is all it is.
It also does a good job in questioning the role of education. Is it just so we can get a job? Or should knowledge be its own reward?

It doesn’t offer many answers, but I don’t thnk it has to. Bringing the issue up is enough.

IMDb | Clive Davis | Confessions of a Movie Critic

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4 Responses

  1. I expected to like this film more than I did. I can't really explain why I felt disappointed, though. I expected more profound reflections on history. I thought the discussions were all rather superficial.

    The question "what is history?" IS history, I think. Even though the young, bullish teacher was the less sympathetic character, I have to say I found his philosophy of history more congenial than the "facts, facts, facts" lady-teacher. Even if he was completely cynical and careerist in his suggestion that the boys come up with new and exciting theories, I do think our relation to history should be creative. (Which doesn't necessarily mean dishonest, but might.)

    But I don't agree with the criticism (which I've come across in a few places) that homosexuality would have been so accepted in the eighties. First of all, remember these are very precocious and sophisticated boys. But even apart from that, I think our parents and grand-parents and great-grand-parents were more aware and accepting of homosexuality than we like to think. We like to preen ourself on how emancipated we are but the more I read the more surprised I am at the amount of sexual toleration there's always been.

    Possibly the same criticism applies…this might be an impression based upon biographies of writers and intellectuals and toffs, who would have have enjoyed greater freedoms than the great unwashed ever did.

    I have to say, when it comes to school, I honestly believe I didn't learn ANYTHING there that I wouldn't have learnt anyway, or that I didn't forget straight away. I think school is more important as an experience than for anything you actually learn there.

  2. Fence says:

    The thing is that you have to know the facts of history before you can do anything else.

    I think the point was that he didn't care what they came up with, once they managed to get into Oxford/Cambridge, so it was all about the results not about education.

    Yes, it wasn't a huge deep debate, more an amusing overview but I still liked it.

  3. Mal says:

    You don't have to know many facts to understand history. I think knowing too many details merely confuses you.

  4. Fence says:

    Well obviously enough you don't need to know the minute details for a narrative history, but you need the facts. As Rudge says, history is just one fucking thing after another. If you don't know what the things are then you can't understand history.