Adapted screenplay contender
DISTRIB/RELEASE DATE: Fox Searchlight/Oct. 13 (U.K.), Nov. 21 (U.S.)
ADAPTED FROM: Bennett’s stage play “The History Boys”
STORYLINE: Two teachers — one cynical yet pragmatic, the other idealistic yet unworldly — contend for the souls of a group of Oxbridge hopefuls.
ABOUT THE SCRIPT: Bennett says: “Hector (Richard Griffiths) is the kind of teacher people would like to have had. … There are very few like those now; there’s no time for them.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “There wasn’t pressure, but some suggested that we get a slightly starrier cast for the cinema. But we were so much a group, having done the play for so long, both the featured actors and the boys. That dictated the whole way the film was financed: It had to be low-budget because no one would put up a lot of money.”
BREAKTHROUGH IDEA: “Having the nerve to not do all the things one is supposed to do when adapting a play. I began writing more about the boys’ home life because some seemed to expect it, but the heart of the play is the classroom. We agreed to resist any notion that the audience wouldn’t put up with ideas.”
CHOICE LINES: “Hector, about reading a sentiment one had thought to be one’s own: ‘Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.’ This encapsulates education to me: It’s about connection.”