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Fond de l'Etang is a boarding school for troubled boys located in the French countryside. In the mid-twentieth century, it is run by the principal M. Rachin, an egotistical disciplinarian whose official unofficial mantra for the school is "action - reaction", meaning that there will be severe consequences for any boy out of line. This approach does not seem to be working as the boys as a collective are an unruly bunch. In turn, the teachers don't teach, but are always watching out for the next subversive act from the boys. January 15, 1949 marks the arrival to the school of the new supervisor, M. Clément Mathieu, a middle-aged man who is grasping at finding his place in life after a series of failed endeavors. Although he does find the boys an unruly lot, Mathieu does not believe in the "action - reaction" policy, and as such, butts heads with Rachin while secretly undermining the policy. Slowly, Mathieu's approach of trying to match the discipline to the crime does have a positive ... Written by
In 2004, this was the #1 movie at the French box office, with more than 8.6 million admissions. See more »
When the now-bandaged Maxence shows Mathieu around on his first day he shows him a wall with photos of the school benefactresses and the motto "Labor improdus omnia vincit" which is attributed to Virgil. But the second word is incorrect - it should read "improbus". Translations vary but it means something like "Persistent hard work conquers everything." See more »
The excellent film "The Choir" takes us back to a France of the past where the director Christophe Barratier and Philippe Lopes-Curval place their story about a school for problem children.
In a way, we have seen similar situations where a good teacher is the catalyst for turning around a group of unruly students into good and productive young men and women. Mathieu Clement, is such a man. His kindness toward the children is returned to him by the students, as they respond to the way he teaches music to motivate and interest them. M. Clement has a keen sense of how to deal with the students; instead of the hard line approach the principal, Rachin, insists in dealing with them, he has other ways to make them change.
The music created by the film director, M. Barratier, and Bruno Coulais, gives the film the right tone. We also hear a song by Rameau, "La Nuit", which is sung with such sweetness that it disarms us and get us into the right mood for enjoying "The Choir" even more.
The film owes a great deal to Gerard Jugnot, who plays the kind teacher who sees possibilities among all these kids. His take on Mathiew Clement is the right one, because the children see in him someone that is the opposite of the other teachers and the mean principal. As the director of the school, Francois Berleand does a good job in portraying this egotistical man who can't see what his own cruelty is doing to the young people in his charge.
The children are as sweet as one expects them to be. Especially Jean Baptiste Maunier, who plays the young Pierre Morhange. Also an angelic Maxence Perrin enchants the viewer as the young orphan Pepinot. Marie Bunel plays Pierre's mother well.
This film is music to the ears of viewers, young and old.
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