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Alan Bennett
144 Pages
Publisher: Faber & Faber (November 2006)
ISBN: 0865479712
Price: S$25.15 (Available in Borders)





When you watch a film and like it so much, you will want to own every piece of merchandise related with it – even its screenplay so you can re-live every moment and line spoken in the movie.

This is where a book like this will make you fork out money to buy it and display it proudly on your bookshelf.

Ultimately a screenplay with precise scene and location breakdowns, this publication appeals also because of a foreword written by director Nicholas Hytner, a brief production diary written by scriptwriter Alan Bennett, as well as a generous serving of production photos and stills.

It is interesting to read how Hytner had doubts about adapting Bennett’s play into a film. After all, we have seen some bad adaptations that should belong on the stage (Remember the bad singing in Joel Schumacher’s 2004 The Phantom of the Opera, anyone?). It is also interesting to read about how Bennett is reminded of his school days on the set of the film. These little stories and anecdotes help you to imagine what it was like during the shooting of the film.

From the screenplay, you can see why the play won a palette of awards in the theatre scene.

Bennett uses some really sharp lines and clever setups to bring out the boys’ quest for sex, sport and a place in university. Although the teacher and headmaster roles may be caricature moulds, their places in the story make you wonder about education and its purpose.

Yes, right here in Singapore, other than Jack Neo’s stabs at the education system in I Not Stupid (2002), this screenplay is also apt in making us reflect on those years we spent slogging over textbooks and examinations in schools.


“We knew our show’s strengths, and though they included neither a driving narrative now any whiff of the picturesque, there seemed to be no point in trying to parachute into the material cinematic attributes it had no interest in possessing. If there was ever to be a History Boys film, the point of it would be that it would allow us to intensify what was exciting about the play."


If you loved the wry humour of the film, you will want to buy this book to check out Bennett’s screenplay. The ultimate fan in you may also want to get your hands on the book featuring the script from the play.

Review by John Li


. The History Boy: The Movie Review



This book review is made possible with the kind sponsor of BORDERS


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