On Broadway, where History Boys won six Tonys and became a modest hit despite the absence of a Disney cartoon character in the cast, Alan Bennett's dog-eared paean to grammar-school life carried a nearly mythic resonance. No matter the 1980s Sheffield setting; it was instantly familiar to anyone who has ever been young, questioned the purpose of a slide rule, and felt that the world was his for the taking. Made by the same creative principals -- Bennett, director Nicholas Hytner, and a superb cast who have now been with their roles for far longer than a term -- the film version is a lesser thing, more fixed in space and time, and rendered almost unbearably "cinematic" in patches by Hytner's gymnastic camerawork. Yet the ideas and feelings of the piece remain so rich that it almost doesn't matter. The "history" under discussion here is that of history itself, as a classroom becomes a crucible for the debate over learning for its own sake versus "teaching to the test." But if History Boys arrives at a perilous moment for culture and learning, it nevertheless instills in you hope for the youth of tomorrow and a newfound appreciation for the lyrical value of compound adjectives.
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Alan Bennett
Producer: Nicholas Hytner, Kevin Loader and Damian Jones
Cast: Richard Griffiths, Clive Merrison, Frances De La Tour, Stephen Campbell Moore, Dominic Cooper, Sacha Dhawan, Sam Anderson, Andrew Knott, Samuel Barnett and Russell Tovey