I finally got myself to see "The History Boys" tonight. I'd been told that it was good by at least three people, who were wild about it. I was dubious. In fact it took a long while for me to warm to it, but eventually I came around to liking it.
In short, I recommend it.
It takes on some really great points about education for one thing. I'm too lazy and tired to write a review of it right now. Besides, this synopsis I found
does a fine job itself:
The Basics: Eight over-achieving sixth-year students (that's being a high-school senior in England) are assigned a tutor to help them get into Oxford or Cambridge. They like him well enough, but he's all about teaching to the test, rather than the boys' favorite teacher (Griffiths), a man whose willingness to go off-script is well known, as is his propensity for putting the moves on his students.
What's the Deal? What's so cool about this movie is that it's about happily living in a hermetically sealed bubble of ideas surrounded by other people who take ideas seriously and are happy to live there too. None of the dialogue sounds a thing like what the normal 17-year-old would be caught dead talking about ("What is history?" for example). But just sitting in on the movie is like getting to spy on a private club for smart people. It's like what Dead Poet's Society would have been if it hadn't been stupid emo crap.
And Then There's the Fondling: The most beloved teacher in the place (Griffiths) has a ritual that involves copping feels of his favorite boys. Weirdly, though, the young men don't seem to mind. In fact, one of them laments that he's never been chosen to be "bad-touched." When one quips, "Are we scarred for life?" another quickly retorts, "I certainly hope so." So if it's hysteria you're looking for, you've come to the wrong movie.