Monday, October 16, 2006

History

I went to see the History Boys last night. It was ok. There were some enjoyable moments, but something about it just didn't sit right with me. Why did these guys want to go to Oxford, and why was it just assumed that they did? I thought it was lazy not to explore that and the only revelation came at the end with Rudge declaring that he didn't really give a stuff. At last, there's a human being amongst them. Dakin was a great character but all in all it was very forced, very contrite, very theatrical and terribly pretentious. It didn't translate to film at all. They may as well have set up a camera to record one of the Broadway performances and saved themselves some time and effort. In a theatre you can suspend reality and they'd probably get away with it, but the same cannot be said for film. Alan Bennett's a playwright, not a screenwriter so you can't really blame him, but still. Let's just please not continue with this trend of turning plays into films, or the other way around. I should have seen Children of Men instead.

4 comments:

Tim said...

Told you it'd be gash.

bagelmouse said...

Why did they want to go to Oxford? Well, as someone who applied to Cambridge with not much idea why I can give you an idea (even though the background of these boys isn't very relevant to the play/film; it's about an exploration of themes and ideas, and it's quite deliberate to keep that within the confines of the school). You apply to Oxbridge because of the dream, that ideal that's dangled in front of you that it's the ultimate place to go, the place where you'll be better than everyone else and it's been idealised to hell in everything this country does. It's the cachet, the significance, that thought that if you spend three years among the dreaming spires you will end up stretching yourself as a person, that you will somehow end up better. Like Hector says, it's "confusing learning with the smell of cold stone". The film doesn't have a narrative drive, but frankly neither did The Madness of King George (another Alan Bennett) and it doesn't need it; it's all about the glory of language and the expansion of the mind.

Incidentally, at the Q&A I went to, Nicholas Hytner said that when people would come up to him and say which character they identified with, 19 out of 20 would say "god, Dakin's awful isn't he?" And the one in 20 who'd say, "Dakin's great, I am Dakin" would be the wanker ;-)

Will said...

Don't confuse thinking someone's a great character to actually wanting to be them.

bagelmouse said...

It gave me momentary pleasure on a grey day :-)