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"The Browning Version": Professor Confesses Failures

The film The Browning Version is about Andrew Crocker-Harris (Albert Finney), a strict classical literature professor at a posh British boys prep school where his students force themselves to put up with him or openly despise him.

When a student shows him genuine appreciation, and his marriage ends, these two profound events bring the professor to the breaking point.

The students and faculty gather in the auditorium for a graduation ceremony where Crocker-Harris is introduced by the school chancellor. There is only a smattering of mild, polite applause. He stands up, a serious expression on his face, puts on his glasses, takes out his note cards, and walks toward the front of the platform. He begins to say a few words about the importance of the study of the classics. Then he stops, a strained expression on his face, unable to continue. There is a feeling of discomfort among the students as they realize something is wrong. He finishes his sentence, pauses, and walks down the steps of the platform to the main floor. He slowly walks about a quarter of the center aisle between the rows of students, saying nothing.

In a penitent voice, the professor then says:

I am sorry. I am sorry because I have deserved the epithet "Hitler of the Lower Fifth." I am sorry because I have failed to give you what is your right to demand of me as your teacher: sympathy, encouragement, humanity. I have degraded the noblest calling a man can follow—the care and molding of the young. When I entered this school, I still believed that I had a vocation—teaching. I knew what I wanted to do. And yet I did not do it. I cannot offer excuses. I have failed and miserably failed. And I can only hope that you can find it in your hearts—you and the countless others who have gone before you—to forgive me for having let you down. I shan't find it easy to forgive myself. That is all.

He puts his glasses in his breast pocket and continues walking down the aisle. A moment later a few students start clapping, more join in, then they all stand and give him a loud applause. A close up reveals Crocker-Harris to be moved.

Elapsed Time: 01:25:11 to 01:29:51 from the start of the studio logo.

Content: Rated R for language.

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