History Boys is a film adaptation of an Alan Bennett play about eight boys spending an extra term at school for their Oxbridge exams in the early 80s. It stars the same young men who have successfully played the boys on stage over the last couple of years as well as fine performances by Richard Griffiths, Frances De La Tour, Clive Merrison and Stephen Campbell Moore. The boys start their term being taught by the eccentric, camp academic Hector (Griffiths) though the dour, practical headmaster (Merrison) replaces some of his lessons with rookie recruit Irwin (Moore) to give the boys some edge and help them think outside the box. The contrast, conflict and respect between the two generations is cleverly portrayed, as is the gradual development of the individual personalities of the eight students.
All well written and beautifully developed then yet nothing like my secondary education even though the boys are only supposed to be a handful of years older than me. The undercurrent of homosexuality, ubiquitous use of surnames and flamboyant flouting of academic prowess were not part of my school experience though maybe these facets were more prevalent in single sex Grammar Schools a few years earlier.
Although The History Boys was written as a play and is probably most effective on stage, the film adaptation is memorable and thought-provoking with some fine dialogue and excellent performances. Well worth seeing.