Saturday, June 6, 2015

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips (2002) Movie Review

Goodbye, Mr. Chips. 

I've seen this movie twice now. Beautiful is the only word that seems to properly convey the message and characters of the story.

Mr. Chipping is not your ordinary Latin teacher. When he arrives at Brookfield, his heart of compassion quickly becomes evident. In a strict school that sternly follows the rules and metes out strong discipline, he sees beyond policies and practices. Instead, he sees hearts.

On holiday, he meets a charming young woman. I won't give much away, but allow me to say that she is the sweetest little thing ever. Their swift romance is one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Again, beautiful is the word. And, yes, marriage ensues shortly after she drops Mr. Chipping a note bidding him farewell...and containing her special title for him.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Needless to say, goodbye was hardly the appropriate word. Perhaps I Do was more fitting.

Back at Brookfield, the new Mrs. Chipping comes alongside her husband in the desire for reform of character. Bullying has always been a problem, and she does much in the way of changing things without the harsh discipline that the school has always used - but has never found effective. I love her character. Though opposed because she is new and her concerns are therefore taken flippantly (because she can't possibly know anything about how to run a boy's school), she is firm, gracious - and brings reform.

That is the last I will say about Mrs. Chipping. Do not watch this film unless you are prepared to cry.

Changes come and go at the school. Hardships ensue. Mr. Chips is always faithful, always perceptive, always seeing people's hearts rather than rules. (Although, he is a disciplinarian and believes in justice. Several scenes portray that.) War, new leadership, separation, and loss set the stage at times; victory, love, respect, and reform at others. 

In the end, will Mr. Chipping's work make a difference in hearts and lives?


Darwin's theory of evolution is mentioned very briefly once at a dinner party. Historically, it was appropriate that the movie include the revolutionary new idea. The subject is partially mocked by the head-master and even the teacher who brings it up is rather disrespectful of the theory. But the movie does include the mention of evolution.

There are two or three scenes showing bullying. Nothing too intense is portrayed, but it may be frightening to younger viewers. Again, the historical accuracy is there. Boys did initiate each other into house groups by ordeals such as barreling. Bullying is shown to be wrong and measures are taken to prevent it in the movie.

War does take place. Again, be mindful of younger viewers.

There is one brief kiss. I wouldn't say it was inappropriate. But the matter is for your discretion. 

The word fagging is a historical one and means nothing inappropriate. In schools, younger students were made to act as personal servants to the older students in much of a master/servant relationship. Older students did punish younger ones for failing to complete all of their duties perfectly and tyranny was the norm. I believed I ought to mention this, lest a misunderstanding is made of what that word actually entails. It's just another one of the British words we might take a little differently here in the USA.

This is a quiet, grave movie. It's proper, the conversation is deep and the dialogue contains marvelous vocabulary. The movie is meaningful. It's sweet, wholesome, and entirely made up of the things we want to develop: honor, doing the right thing, mercy, justice, and seeing people's hearts.

I saw lovely things in this movie. I saw a beautiful spirit of compassion, a romance that was nothing but wholesome, and the quiet strength that comes from knowing you are right and acting on it. 

Oh, and the reverence for God, holiness, order, and authority is positively inspiring. One of my favorite scenes includes a room full of chanting boys (for good reason - it's an amazing scene). Dead silence happens in a millisecond at the mention of prayer. Hashtag=wonderful.

Highly recommended.

Have you seen it? What do you think?

For the moment, the movie happens to be on YouTube. Check it out!


  1. Yes! This is the Goodbye, Mr. Chips movie I saw! I really liked it, too, and this makes me want to see it again. I loved the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Chips. By the way, it is much better than the book, in my opinion. The book needed major fleshing out, and this movie did the story wonderful justice.

    1. Yes, I didn't care for the book at all. It left me wondering how they managed to make such a beautiful movie out of it! I suppose some movies really are better than the books. :)

  2. I've seen the movie a couple of times on Television as well, and a good movie. Rare to see them of this calibre today. In fact I think conflating two movies in my memory.

    I know what you mean about differences in langauge- in Britain 'fag' is a slang word for cigarette to this day- and 'faggot' is a bundle of sticks or twigs, usually tied together, used as kindling for a fire.

    1. Really? I did not know that. Yes, the word "fag" is a slang word here and has a very different meaning! Thanks for sharing.


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