The History Boys

Tiscali are being useless at moving my internet connection across to my lovely, clean, decorated and money-sucking new flat, but I thought I’d nip back to have a quick bliss-out over The History Boys.

Liz and me went to a special screening plus director and cast Q&A at the Screen on the Hill on Monday, and it does compare very well to the stage version – the first play I’ve ever been to where I didn’t feel slightly disappointed afterwards. It’s wonderful. I’m not sure I could ever fully love someone who didn’t love The History Boys (and Lost in Translation). Where music is an emotional punch in the gut for me, film appeals to a wider sensibility. If music is my heart, film is my soul.

Of course, the fact that I’m also a Yorkshirelass who (attempted) to go to Cambridge to do History possibly has something to do with the appeal; some of the sideswipes at History tickle me immensely ("it’s just one fucking thing after another"). But it’s more than that – the play and film challenges the very notion of received wisdom. I want to cheer when Irwin is teaching the boys to take another look at History. I remember Liz and me defending Stalin in a class debate – and winning – and writing an essay in an A Level mock exam saying how pathetic I thought Othello was. The paper was handed back to me with the remark "this is a perfect example of how to get something wrong – but to get it wrong with an A".

Each generation challenges the notions of the one just gone. And just because The History Boys approaches the subject through academia doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible. I love its love of learning for its own sake; I love the fact it has a five minute scene entirely in French and you don’t need to speak a word (I don’t) to understand it; I love how funny and passionate and caring it is. It’s out on Friday – go see.


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