How do we learn to live with others and their wishes? Director Nicolas Philibert poses this question in a village schoolhouse in Auvergne, where Georges Lopez teaches 13 children, ages ranging from about four to 12. Against a landscape of mountains and farmland, from driving snow to rain to sun, the children gather in Lopez's warm and colorful classroom, to read, write dictation, cook, and sort things out. At home, the older ones do homework with parents after their chores. At year's end, they look ahead to the next, visiting the middle school and meeting the little ones coming in the fall. As they learn sums and adjectives, with Lopez's help, they also learn to live side by side. Written by
Simply wonderfull is the only way for me to describe this film. No film is perfect, but this film comes awfully close! A beautifully shot film about school kids and their teacher in a French school in the Auvergne. I had the privilege to watch the film during the International Film Festival Rotterdam and hear the directors comments afterwards.
All children (appr. 20) ranging from age 4 to 12 (my guess) in one room with a teacher who really found his vocation in life. The school was chosen after visiting numerous schools in France. One of the main reasons, according to the director, for choosing this particular school was the fact that is had all children in 1 room and that room had ample space, which meant that no addional lighting was needed.
In the course of the film you get the feeling that the camera (and therefore us, the viewers) really gets invisible, allthough that was absolutely not the case. "The children behaved completely different when the camera was there". I didn't notice that. You really feel for them afterwards. This includes the teacher who is finishing his last year and will retire. One of the most touching moments for me was the last shot at the end of the school year when all the children leave for the last time and the teacher has a few emotional moments alone, realizing that this is the end, both for the children and himself. The moment is even more poignant when you realize that it is not acted, it is real...
Do not expect a high pace film with lots of drama and action. In the beginning I had a little difficulty with the pace of the film, which seems slow. Especially the "in-between shots" seem long, but after a while I got totally gripped in it and these shots really felt right. They got me down from my real-life fast pace (such as it is) and settled me down.
I could go on and on about what is so wonderfull about this film, but my advise: If you see one film this year, see this one !!
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