Oh, Mr. Pleasant, how is Mrs. Pleasant? (The Browning Version, 1951)

Yeah yeah, three, almost four, consecutives notes about video-games: this blog is getting nerdish as hell. So this new one is about The Browning Version, which was in first place a play, then made into a movie. And that’s the movie I’ll discuss here, the first one from 1951.

This movie is all about the suffocating ambiance of an English public school from the begin of the century (well, not this one, the previous one), Dead Poets Society-like, actually. Except you skip Robin William usual kind of role here: the poet is not the funny weirdo that’ll get kicked in the arse by the high hierarchy because of his wildness. Interestingly, it’s just the opposite, the misunderstood poet, Andrew Crocker-Harris, is surnamed Himmler of the lower fifth (lower fifth being the name of the class he’s in charge of) by schoolboys and fellows, even by the headmaster, because he maintain proper order in his classroom, a by the book kind of man, focused on Hellenic studies as opposed to Physics/Chemistry.

While I’m not about to criticize the Dead Poets Society –I think that’s a fine movie that raises somehow fitting issues- it’s quite obvious The Browning Version make a stand from a much difficult position. I’m not really a by the book kind of man myself but I do like the way the Crock accept to play the bad guy because he thinks it’s right and serves a purpose, even if it makes him unpopular. And it’s funny to see how the headmaster praises order as provided by Himmler of the lower fifth while, at the same time, sucking up vigorously to popular teachers whose classroom is a often a mess. I think this kind of wicked attitude exists still in many schools or work places.

Himmler of the lower fifth himself

Aside from that, the Crock is ill and his wife is having an affair with the popular fellow physicist/chemist. I thought The Crock was poisoned but that’s in fact not really relevant, as his major illness is of the soul, not the body. Also, his wife seems a bit like a whore in first place but, at some point, her position makes sense too: she’s also a victim of a very unfitting wedding.

The movie ends with a scene in which, in front of all students, The Crock expresses remorse for what he ended up to be. According to Wikipedia this was not in the original play and, actually, I think it was not a great scene to add. First, the speech is way below the characters standards; too much to stay credible even if we consider him affected by his feelings. Secondly, and that’s most disturbing, while I understand the guy, contemplating the end of his career get a bit confused about himself (And it’s not so pleasant after all, hey hey, How are you today?), what he did and how he was perceived accordingly, I don’t understand how he reached the conclusion the be an utter failure. After all, the schoolboy Taplow, that regularly comes to his home to take lessons/discuss humanities, is an example of a deserving student, even if he’s not sure of his disinterest.

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