It’s an old movie, The History Boys. It is one of my favourite movies of all time, originally a Tony Award-winning play written by Alan Bennet who also adapted it into film. If you haven’t seen it, you must. It’s the story of eight boys, very smart, who get the best ever A’level results in their high school and are pressured by their headmaster to try for Cambridge and Oxford. This means taking an extra term for history class, taught by Hector who is played by Richard Griffiths, Totty who is played by Frances de la Tour and new teacher brought in to help prepare the boys for the entrance exams, Irwin, played by Stephen Campbell Moore.
Hector is culturally astute and passionate in his work as a teacher. His awareness is gleaned in a multiplicity of multidisciplinary lessons including Literature, Art, Philosophy and Poetry. For me, this very part of the movie bears hope for the book loving, culture appreciating ‘other,’ especially in a world where such is not as appreciated as Iggy are-you-fucking-kidding-me? Azalea.
Throughout the movie, he and the boys recite beautiful and witty quotes and anecdotes – some funny, some smart and some introspective. My favourite, of all the ‘gobbets’ they share, is one from Hector when he talks about how full of wonder reading is. Here it is:
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”
Isn’t that beautiful. And true?