A headstrong young teacher (Maggie Smith, in an Oscar-winning role) in a private school in 1930s Edinburgh ignores the curriculum and influences her impressionable 12 year old charges with her over-romanticized world view.
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A rather muted take on Spark which by centring on a mannered performance by Smith tends to destabilise the rest of the film with a series of camp flourishes rather than any particular insight into this silly woman's naive politics. Johnson's stoically stern headmistress is a small treat.
I was really surprised by this movie... at first it looked something like an ancient "Dead Poets Society" (which, by the way, is not a great compliment). But then the movie takes a more interesting turn and the relations between teachers and students become more complex: not just admiration, not just hate (it reminded me of "Cracks"). Great perfomances!
I normally struggle to get into mainstream 60s films, but this one had a lot going for it. Maggie Smith is magnificent, easy to see why she's a dame now.
Also, LOL at her explaining petrification. Thanks Professor McGonagall.