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
The film was shot in the middle of summer which was hard for the cast to wear winter clothes since the scenes were supposed to be in winter (in January) . 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 »
Boys as a group are perhaps the least understood human beings among us. Les Choristes invites our understanding of their sensibility, sensitivity, and the ease with which they are treated badly -- in fact, have always been treated badly by institutions, educators and parents. The importance of fathers in their lives and their great need for a surrogate if the natural fathers are missing are beautifully explored in this film. The screenplay and its realization on screen are very effective in showing how the difficult combination of giving boys strong direction and tenderness and finding a way to their hearts can be accomplished. This film helps us understand how the same human creature can be hard and sullen one moment and sweetly spiritual the next, inaccessible one minute and needy the next. It is also an inspiring film for young men preparing to be teachers.
49 of 63 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?