Teacher Behaving Wisely
Having arrived at Brookfield's boys boarding school, Latin master, Mr. Chipping (Martin Clunes - Saving Grace) immediately suffers an initiation by fire thanks to the boys in his first class. Despite this Mr. Chipping soon becomes popular with the students who warm to his fairness and his caring side as he takes a real interest in them. As the years pass people come and go from students to teachers and also head masters, as well as loved ones. With each passing year Mr. Chipping manages to make a difference in so many of the boy's lives and as such is deeply affected when the outbreak of war sees him not only acting as temporary headmaster but again having to deal with more loss and sending boys off to fight.
I have to say that when I think of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" my thoughts drift to the wonderful Robert Donat in the 1939 version of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" as he gave his version of Mr. Chipping such warmth that it is hard to forget. But as a fan of Martin Clunes I was also looking forwards to seeing what he would bring to the role, how he would bring out the warmth in the character without coming across as a poor man's Robert Donat. Fortunately Clunes pulls it off without resorting to too much sentiment and the beauty of James Hilton's novel, as well as his much loved character, shines through be it in the lighter moments or the darker ones.
It isn't just Martin Clunes who makes "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" work so well and much of the praise must go to director Stuart Orme. Orme has delivered a costume drama which has respect for the period the story is set in but without feeling too stiff which is one of my pet hates when it comes to costume dramas. He's also got the balance just right between the various aspects from moments of drama to the use of the soundtrack to tell the story, such as in scenes when Mr. Chipping is on a walking holiday and becomes besotted with Kathie who he meets perched over a river watching fish.
What this all boils down to is, and once again I apologise for the brevity of this review, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" is a movie you have to watch to appreciate. Whilst for me I will always think of the 1939 version of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" first because of the wonderful Robert Donat this 2002 version is almost as good and might even work better for those who don't do older movies.