The Browning Version (1994)

28 October 1994

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Andrew Crocker-Harris (Albert Finney), a teacher of Greek and Latin at a private school, is dubbed the 'Hitler of the Lower Sixth' by his students. His rigidity and cruelty are the sad remnants of an extinguished passion for classical literature. But as he is poised to leave the school--forced into retirement by the headmaster and made a cuckold of by the infidelities of his wife Laura (Greta Scacchi)--Crocker-Harris finds his love for learning rekindled by the interest and sympathy of a young student named Taplow (Ben Silverstone), who gives him Robert Browning's translation of Aeschylus' AGAMEMNON as a parting gift. Based on a Terence Rattigan play, THE BROWNING VERSION is a character study that finds pathos in British stodginess and makes a subdued plea for the nobility of teaching. Finney is the powerful centre of the film, portraying a man whom time and opportunity have passed by. As humiliations are piled upon his character, Finney registers nothing but silent resignation, even as he ratchets up his stoicism to face the next disappointment.

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