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|Index||87 reviews in total|
A teacher with a vocational sense of duty takes a pastoral interest in
his multi-ethnic class of Parisian teenagers.
The Class is both powerful human drama and a treatise on the nature of mandatory education. A vibrant, diverse group of inner city pupils assert their individuality day-to-day in ways that sometimes please their teacher, and ofttimes challenge his authority. The teacher, Marin (real-life teacher François Bégaudeau) has his work cut out for him, spending more time dealing with the agendas of his charges than on any content input. The cinema verite style makes this seem more like reality TV or documentary, and compels you to engage with personalities you'd rather avoid. Or perhaps forget, because the film so encapsulates classroom culture that it is impossible not to recall your own educational experiences, and that is a raw sore for many of us. As Ken Robinson said, the thing about an education is that we've all had one and feel entitled to offer an opinion, hence the debates raging around this film on this forum and elsewhere. (By way of example, read Roger Egbert's review, where he slides off into a tangent, a painful reminiscence of his own sense of futility in the classroom).
The film refuses to take sides and so purposely engenders debate. I found myself recalling the dysfunctional classrooms of my own youth, while also reaffirming respect for any teacher who undertakes high school teaching in current times (writing this from Japan where "classroom breakdown" is a major concern). I read the film as suggesting that these individuals would treat each other differently in a different environment, and so the classroom is an experiment that does not always work.
A worthy film, with a refreshing approach to narrative.
Terrific film and probably amongst the best films on education i have
seen so far. Whats so unique about this film (and probably the reason
why it won the cannes palma award) is that it is a real reflection on
the happenings in everyday classroom within a school year. It doesn't
need to rely on a series of events or plots, or the need for a happy or
sad ending. As what u will see throughout are unrelated sequences, but
all the more so, events that show a very realistic portrayal of the
interaction, challenges and the social behaviour among teachers and
All of these cannot be possible if the main actor and screenplay writer is not played by the person who wrote the book and was a teacher himself. Clearly he does not need to act at all to bring out 100% of what he intended to convey the message to the audience. But still, it is a magnificent feat to produce a film of this quality, as if directly shot from a classroom in real life! Moreover, he is not afraid to reveal the weaknesses of teachers. We all know that teachers are human and sometimes we hated them too.
There was a critical mistake his character made in the film, causing an unnecessary loss, and there was no attempt at all to find a proper remedy other than to stick to the the system -- this just make the film even more realistic, as in real life, how many teachers will actually be brave enough to act otherwise? Not many films manage to reflect on the challenges faced by teachers, and the conflicts they face with their students, and the conflicts the students have with the school. Probably this is the first successful masterpiece to link all that
The French film Entre les murs was shown in the U.S. with the title The
Class (2008). The film was co-written and directed by Laurent Cantet.
It's based on a book written by François Bégaudeau, who plays himself
in the movie. (He's called François Marin.)
The movie presents a school year in an inner city Parisian middle school. The film is a work of fiction, but its actors are real students, who improvised much of the dialog.
The Class is discouraging, because the year is full of friction rather than learning. The students, many of whom are immigrants, are underprivileged and seemingly unprepared. They spend most of their time and energy challenging their teacher.
François, in turn, doesn't respond well to their challenges. He's never able to establish a relationship with the students that would suggest "we're all in this together." He uses sarcasm when honesty would be better, and verbal attack when kindness would be better.
The situation is sad, because nobody gains anything. The students appear to be basically decent young people. However, it struck me that they're dissatisfied with French society and their place within it. The closest representative of French society in their lives is their teacher, and their basic reaction is to push hard against him.
François appears to be a basically decent person and teacher, but he just doesn't seem to be able to deal with the students in a way that would satisfy them and him.
No one wins, everyone loses, and in the next school year the same cycle will continue. The movie presents many, many questions, but no answers.
Entre les murs was shown as part of the excellent Rochester Labor Film Festival. It takes place almost entirely within the classroom, so it will work well on the small screen. It's definitely worth seeing, but you'll probably feel discouraged--as I did--after you see it.
If you're looking for a slice-of-life, documentary style film about the
subject matter - this one hits all the marks, I guess. The acting and
technical elements of the film are also just fine, and it does have
some really great moments, but...
My problem with the film, is that it just isn't that entertaining - the "dramatic" episode that the film revolves around isn't very dramatic - I've seen a lot more exiting stuff going down in the school where I grew up in Denmark - and let me tell you - not a whole lot went down there either...
And considering how little actually happens, 2 hours is way too long to keep things interesting.
School system. A brilliant teacher. And the class. Fragments of society. A movie about good intentions and sick universe. Fights and waves of a war. Half documentary, half description of fall. And many faces. Of same problem, with many names but same essence. Steps of surrounding, it is only a empty circle. In France, USA or Romania. The integration problem or identity as delicate question in global village are crumbs. Important is the place. The place of teacher and class, the place of knowledge and punishment, the sketches of future more than symbolic projects. It is a film about naked school. And about education as large Red See. Nothing more. So, it is difficult to define it. Palme d'Or is a small stamp for a letter about disintegration of a way to be. A movie like a punch. Or lead carpet.
A French film, a real-documentary look alike, that shows the daily life
of a Paris secondary school located in a multiracial and very poor
neighborhood. It focuses on the French Language lessons, the teacher
that delivers them, and the students attending. Oddly enough, the actor
playing the teacher is the author of the novel on which the script is
based, who told in the novel his real experiences as teacher in a
The subject is, a priori, not very interesting, really, but there is plenty of stories, of emotion, of real people and real problems presented in a fresh way, and that's always engaging. At the beginning I thought that I couldn't stand the 2 hours of footage, but it surprised me that time flew.
I liked the portray of the teachers' problems in such an environment, the rebellious character and behavior of the students and their lack of interest in learning in general, and in Language in particular, and their lack of respect for the authority of any teacher. I think these are contemporary universal issues, and that's why the film can interest anybody not only French people. I also liked that it offered both sides of the coin, not just the teacher's or the students' only, and none of them appear as good or bad, but both.
All the actors are terrific, especially the young amateur ones playing the students, who play their roles with great conviction; perhaps because they are playing themselves sometimes.
The main defects of the film to me are 1/ that there is no substantial plot 2/ that the boundaries between fiction and reality are so weak that an uninformed viewer may think he/she is watching a documentary, which is what the film actually seems to be. I also missed in the story that there was barely any mention to the private life of the teachers, which could have given the story more dramatic depth and complete and counteract the glimpses we get about the personal lives of the students, which are a few.
Still, a terrific film.
In French screenwriter and director Laurent Cantet's fourth feature
film which in 2008 became the first French film since Maurice Pialat's
"Sous le Soleil de Satan" (1987) to receive the Palme d'Or, sparks
randomly occur in a multicultural class filled with hormonal teenagers,
but these sparks also create a shimmering collective identity.
In a Paris suburb Francois Begaudeau wishes his old and new students welcome to a new school year. With fresh humor and a noble goal about educating his students in the best possible way Francois opens the first hour, but it doesn't take much time before the secondary school students put their French teacher up against the wall with all kinds of challenging questions.
The year after Francois Begaudeau had worked at a secondary school in Paris he wrote a book about his experiences as a teacher called "Entre Les Murs". Later on his book was discovered by director Laurent Cantet who had been wanting to make a film about teachers and students for a long time. In the book "Entre Les Murs", Laurent Cantet found the material he needed for his film and in time he realized that the writer was tailored for the lead role in "The Class", which explores topics such as independence, ethnicity, pedagogic methods, self-expression, identity, respect, discipline, cultural differences, class differences, personal development and immigration.
This illuminating examination of a modern school society where the teaching methods are not working quite as intended, brings the viewer to the inside of a classroom and depicts the students relation to the school system and the teachers demanding task of motivating them to take their education seriously. The acting is surprisingly good from all participants, and the heartfelt interpretations from the unprofessional actors who had to improvise several of their scenes, strengthens Laurent Cantet's credible portrayal. As a viewer one believes in the teacher's tenacity and the students' opposition, and the more one become involved in the energetic debates, the harder it gets to choose side. Even though the teacher is an articulate man with noble intents, the students often make pointed arguments which are just as reasonable and thought out. Many essential questions are raised in this substantial and realistic depiction of everyday life where one and all are equals.
There are pluses and minuses in this film. It struck me as very real
and gave a portrait of teaching that was at times harrowing. If you
plan or want to be a teacher watch this.
No one is saving the world in this classroom it's a day-to-day struggle amid the insulting confrontations. There is no sugar-coating and no students are rescued (Hollywood-style) from the depths of the slum to achieve greatness. It's easy to see, when watching this, why teaching is a profession noted for a 'burn-out'. It's not an easy job and it has a lot of trials and little tribulations.
However this movie is more like an existential classroom there is no story-line it's just day to day in a classroom with teacher and parental meetings tossed in. It's almost like a documentary cinema-verite style.
From the title of the movie and the description on the back you go into
the movie thinking you know what will happen, thinking this is another
'teacher wins over the students' kind of film. But that kind of plot is
used when a film strives for entertainment leaving behind what actually
happens in a classroom or a school. This is very realistic; you could
be sitting at a desk at the side of the room and watching the
schoolroom banter, and even at times trying to learn.
Set in a school that takes in children from the poorer areas of Paris that includes many immigrants this class is made up of a colorful and diverse array of students: a cocktail of many types that I had come across when at school. This is how we can relate to the movie; we have been in or seen many of the scenarios, the types of characters, and the methods used by certain teachers. Not necessarily in the same class but at some point in our education.
Mr. Marin, the teacher, never seems to get a hold on the class. Someone will always disagree, or not understand or they won't listen and will become preoccupied with something or someone else. And we may become irritated, just like the teacher or another student trying to learn, but we also understand not everyone in a class is equal. Not everyone can learn or wants to learn and certainly not everyone will learn, especially in such a mixed class as this. One teacher cannot suit everyone's learning capabilities or preferences. And this movie doesn't pretend that they can.
There are some questionable decisions as to the roles of some of the students which may have been used to nudge the story on, and the dialogue between the teachers is fairly stale after the lively classroom discussions, but for any student 'teacher-to-teacher' talk would most likely be boring too. What this movie ultimately represents is my six years of high school in one class, dealing specifically with the theme of identity and the battle between teacher and student respect. Some people will say they've had classes exactly like this, some like me will see it as a microcosm of their school-life, and others may not find it familiar at all; but there's no doubting its realistic simulation of the classroom.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems to be an unsolvable challenge to adapt a book into a film. To
be fair, the film is pretty good and gives you the measure of the gap
between the teachers's world and expectations and their students' life.
It gives you also the measure of how a job that should fulfil you
(teaching is not quite the kind of career you choose by default) can
finally leave you full of bitterness. But the two hours are just not
long enough to build up the rhythm you can find in the book. I
especially missed this repetition of events which demystify the
teacher's job, appearing then as just as repetitive and sometimes
boring as any other random job. This repetition is also quite
fundamental of why the tension between Souleymane and his teacher are
turning so bad. All the times they actually ended in the head teacher's
office contribute to the escalation; it didn't just go from one
relatively minor incident to a major one. I also missed the second
class Bégaudeau describes in his book. Where you have much more of
something which is slightly neglected too: those students you just
don't know what you can do to help them given the width of the gap. The
sadness mixed with condescension he shows for them is an important
component of the book. . It gets mirrored by the affection you can
develop for those students who are not always behaving but who you
forgive easily because they're brighter. For all these things it
couldn't be as great the book. But can a film ever be as good as the
book it's inspired from?
Just a note because I am stubborn and slightly resentful sometimes: I still don't get why this got rated 15 in the UK. Especially since I realized today the two 'Mesrine' got rated the same... They got to explain me this. In the contrary as a French mother this was a great sharing time.
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