Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The History Boys

"The History Boys" by Alan Bennett won a Tony Award for Best Play during its American run in 2006. But like all things Broadway, I had never even heard of it. Then there were posters for a new production playing in Portland earlier this year and I was surprised there was a film version so I checked the latter out to see what all the buzz was about.

One of the reasons I liked "The History Boys" was because it shared many elements with another favorite movie of mine- "Dead Poets Society". Both take place in schools so the cast of characters center around students pressured to do well not only with their education but also with life in general. The students are taught by teachers with very eccentric methods of teaching and they all ultimately learn more than what's in the lesson books. And while "carpe diem" was the catchphrase for "Poets", the "Boys" had "pass it on". Yet for all their similarities, each movie was unique in its own way.

Another thing that made watching the film version such a treat was that the original cast that performed it onstage revived their roles for this movie adaptation. It made me wish I had seen the play but I did the next best thing by listening to the audiobook version of it. Although I would say it was more of a dramatization than just a straight out reading of the play in the sense that there were no stage directions being read out loud. (But I guess they don't really do that since that would be weird if they did.) It was just like having it all played out but with no visuals. This did cause some problems as you didn't immediately know the setting or if a special technique- like a flashback- was being used. I would say though the movie captured all the important moments- and the spirit- of the play and even managed to make it much more moving.

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