Browning Version, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -1/2

Albert Finney is wonderful as a stodgy old classics professor at a modern-day Anglican boys school. Master Andrew Crocker Harris has taught Greek and Latin literature for eighteen years and, because of his reputation as an uncaring and sometimes vicious taskmaster, is being forced to retire. In his place, the young Mr. Gilbert (Julian Sands) will take over, eliminating Greek and Latin and instead teaching French and German. If this weren't enough, unknown to Harris, his young wife Laura (Greta Scacchi) is having an affair with the exuberant American chemistry professor, Frank Hunter (Matthew Modine). All this seems to coincide with the Greek play Agamemnon by Aeschylus, which Mr. Harris has assigned the class for reading. One boy, Taplow (Ben Silverstone), is especially touched by Harris' likeness to the tragic Agamemnon. Taplow stands by Harris, trying to defend him against the schoolboys' cruel jokes, and only ends up being taunted in return. Through Taplow's faith in him, Harris gradually regains his earlier passion for learning. This is a mellow and wonderful movie, dark yet full of hope for change and redemption. THE BROWNING VERSION is a film for adults who understand that art can sometimes help us live in reality.

The movie focuses on modern society's lack of respect for the cultural and intellectual heritage of the past. In fact, Harris presents the study of the ancient classics as the way to best redeem the current moral failures of society. While this may indeed help, Christians realize that without the individual's regeneration under Christ, knowledge of the classics will do nothing for society's spiritual redemption. However, Harris' message is very subtle and does not detract from the movie's quality. The movie's adult rating comes primarily from several obscenities, which could have easily been omitted. There is a brief scene of shower nudity among the boys that includes some rear nudity, but the film has no sexual content or violence. The adulterous affair between Harris' wife and his colleague is referred to only and he spurns her attempt to continue the relationship. The R rating seems harsh under the circumstances. Many PG-13 films have more offensive content.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Paramount Communications Inc., 5 Columbia Circle, NY, NY 10023

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (3) times - Mild 2, Moderate 1

Obscene Language: Several (7) times (f-word 5, others 2)

Profanity: Exclamatory once

Violence: None

Sex: None

Nudity: Once (shower scene with male rear nudity)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (kissing, reference to genitals, intercourse)

Drugs: None

Other: Adulterous affair not condoned; classical education held out as primary solution to problems of society.

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.