Films about education usually shy away from attempting to educate the audience on anything, but ‘The History Boys,’ which opens Tuesday, Nov. 21, and was the second film screened at ‘Sneak Previews With Michael Berlin,’ provides genuine food for intellectual discourse in the same way the teachers in the intelligent and witty film do for their students.
The film takes place in 1983 in Yorkshire, England at a high-level prep school where eight of the best and brightest students have found out that the school intends to prepare them for ‘Oxbridge,’ the rigorous exams and interviews they will face for admission to Oxford or Cambridge.
Accordingly, their teachers intend to spend the entire year filling them with as much knowledge, passion and intellectual capability as possible.
The film is based on the wildly successful Broadway play by Alan Bennett and is directed by Nicholas Hytner, who also directed the original theatrical production. The film, which stars the original play’s cast, is a witty, kinetic and stirring portrayal of schoolboys far more mature than anyone around them. Their teachers see them as students, not as children.
While engaging in discussions about the Holocaust, poems by Keats and the nature of death, the boys must also tackle typical adolescent problems. Dakin realizes he is gay and that he’s in love with Posner, one of the other boys. Rudge is convinced he isn’t as smart as the others and that he’s likely to fail the ‘Oxbridge’ exams.
The central conflict