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Andrew Crocker-Harris (Albert Finney) is an embittered and disliked teacher of Greek and Latin at a British Public school. After nearly 20 years of service, he is being forced to retire on the pretext of his health, and perhaps may not even be given a pension. The boys regard him as a Hitler, with some justification. His wife Laura (Greta Scacchi) is unfaithful, and lives to wound him any way she can. Andrew must come to terms with his failed life and regain at least his own self-respect.
The interior and exterior scenes in The Browning Version were filmed at Milton Abbey School and Sherborne School, two boys' independent schools in Dorset, in southern England.
Awards & Nominations:
Palme d'Or (Golden Palm), Cannes Film Festival (1994)
Best Screenplay, BAFTA Awards (1995)
Best Actor (Albert Finney), Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (1994)
A Superb Film
James E. Carroll | Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States | 01/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Albert Finney's portrayal of retiring classics teacher, Andrew Crocker Harris, in "The Browning Version" is a marvelous and understated performance that you will not forget. While I rarely review movies on this site and I cannot fathom why I missed this film when it was released in 1994, I recommend that everyone see it. The title refers to a translation of Aeschylus' Agamemnon; a play that many students will recall from high school. A play that resounds within this story too.Crocker Harris is mocked and ridiculed by the students as a classics teacher of Latin and Greek. His popularity pales when compared to a physical education teacher who is also departing the school. His position at the prestigious English boarding school is being eliminated for one that emphasizes the study of modern languages. His wife is unfaithful with Matthew Modine's character, an American chemistry teacher. The students often cite Crocker Harris' refrain about grading " You have obtained exactly what you deserve- no less and certainly no more." A line that unfortunately also describes Crocker Harris' teaching career and life.In line with films like Dead Poets Society and The Emperor's Club, The Browning Version will keep your interest and not disappoint."
Thoroughly superb movie!
Robert | St. Neots, Cambs, ENGLAND United Kingdom | 12/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of course, Finney needs no intro- especially with his recent BAFTA. As remakes go, this one is exceptionally good (compared to the 1951 original with Michael Redgrave). Acclaimed director Mike Figgis took an old fashioned setting & brilliantly updated it so that the story occurs in the present. The scenes were beautifully shot too. The key scene where the boy, Taplow gave Andrew Crocker-Harris (Finney) the gift of the book was actually a great improvement compared to the original. Thought provoking, truly 1st class acting & totally enjoyable. Well done Mike Figgis- another excellent example of skillful direction. Praise to Albert Finney too- few films these days carry such a dignified performance."
Brilliant central performance
www.DavidLRattigan.com | United Kingdom | 02/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Albert Finney is the most compelling reason for watching this adaption of Terence Rattigan's stage play. His performance is moving as a classics teacher in a British public school, despised by his pupils and rejected by his unfaithful wife. He plays the role of Andrew Crocker-Harris with real pathos. In particular, the scene in which the young Taplow gives him a book (the Browning version of the title) as a parting gift after he is forced into early retirement, is an incredible moment, the force of which makes Harris' wife's subsequent cruelty all the more hard-hitting. For all his self-confessed flaws, Harris emerges (thanks to Finney, who rarely disappoints) as a genuinely sympathetic character whom the viewer can come to identify with, much as young Taplow came to identify with this tragic character.I am not familiar with Rattigan's original stage play, so I am not in a place to make comparisons. The 'Figgis version' certainly did it for me. The beautiful location filming, the score, and the excellent supporting cast are all worthy of recommendation. Overall, the film is executed without fanfare or overstatement, relying on an affecting story told persuasively by a superb ensemble of actors."
A Sliver of Hope Shines Among the Ashes of Despair
Craig Montesano | Washington, DC United States | 03/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie deserves a just review, if only to debunk the notion that the film bears any resemblance to the 'The Dead Poets Society.' It is a uniquely English work that illustrates what it is to keep a stiff upper lip -- after a fair amount of quivering.Albert Finney is masterful as Andrew Crocker-Harris, the stern and unyielding teacher of classics who has, rather suddenly, found himself at the end of his career. With modernity regnant in society, Crocker-Harris faces students uninterested in the great literary works of antiquity and a successor who intends to abolish the tenets of a curriculum that once produced the most learned citizens of any nation. Crocker-Harris can clearly see that his time is passing. But unlike 'Dead Poets,' which sends the unacceptable message that suicide offers an exit from seemingly intractable problems, 'The Browning Version' finds its main character clinging to hope in the face of despair. The vehicle by which this occurs is a student's kind gesture. There are several excellent moments in this film, but perhaps the finest was a scene in which Crocker-Harris -- teaching his final class in the Classics -- attempts to convey depth and feeling in translating Aeshylus' Agamemnon. It's hard not to get caught up in it. For the first time, the staid old teacher conjures up meaning from across the ages in a work that, for the students, is only a dusty tome better kept on a library shelf. My chief complaint about this film centers on development: it needed more character development and a more studied consideration of the literary content, to which only allusions are given. As the French would say, 'The Browning Version' is a voir-absolument."
The most underated film of the decade
Jack Mervis | London | 07/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The subject is esoteric, the film is slow yet the performances are outstanding. The decline and fall of a Classic's teacher, as his outward dignity is lost one sees the most passionate expression of dignity on a personal level. Allegorical in some ways but without reading too much into the film, it must be seen by those who understand the personal struggle that the character whom Albert Finney (A great performance)plays undergoes."