Goodbye, Mr. Chips (2002)

30 Jun

GoodbyeMrChipsI’ll admit it.  Sometimes my “research” comes down to me doing quite silly things.  I’m not sure how much you’ll really learn about England by watching the Exxon-Mobil presentation of Goodbye, Mr. Chips but I certainly loved it.  It features Martin Clunes, the chap who plays Doc Martin in the show of the same name.  I don’t know why I like Clunes so much in both his role in this movie and as the good doctor in “Doc Martin”.  If he was my co-worker I don’t know if I’d even notice the fellow.  But somehow he wins hearts just by being genuine.

The story told in this movie has been told many a time.  It started as a book and I know that there is another movie and a movie musical based on that book.  I just happened to watch this version because that’s what the Hennepin County Library system had available.  The tale is that of a Mr. Chipping, an earnest Latin teacher with his own flair for teaching and interacting with boys in a British boarding school.  We watch as Mr. Chips protests capital punishment, values individuality and rewards moral courage.  We see him take an interest in the students as individuals and how WWII impacts the not-so-insulated world of a British institution.Though boarding schools seem to change very little over time, the film tells us, they cannot help the men they help create.  The challenges of life find us all.

Though I’d still like to see the film from 1939, I wasn’t disappointed here.  I enjoyed watching the awkward Mr. Chips fall in love with an independent and exuberant woman.  I was touched by the handling of the wounded students who returned to visit their stalwart teacher.  I’m not sure how much I learned about the boarding school experience that I hadn’t already known by reading up on Oscar Wilde.  I will continue to find ways to research aspects of Britain that are a bit on the bizarre end of the spectrum.  That’s the nice part of making your own curriculum, add anything that you like and change your mind along the way, too.  It is in this spirit that I have it in mind to binge on Monty Python as soon as possible.


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