It seems that time stood still in this luminous Provençal where Monsieur Burel spent his whole schoolteacher career ;we follow him through his last year ,just before he retires.
Computering and a foreign language which are the two main innovations in grade school of the twenty-first century-introduced in the late nineties- are thoroughly absent (or the scenes were not included in the 80 min movie) .But this "old school" teacher arm his pupils for life :not only French spelling and grammar or arithmetic but lessons in moral ,tolerance and respect ,his commitment to his work is really extraordinary for his school is open almost every day,and open to everyone : thus,the last scene with Victor ,a half-wit Monsieur Burel kept in his classroom since he was a child ,in spite of some families' disapproval , may be the strongest : people do not like "different" people around and it's a lesson we must pay attention to.
This documentary is divided into four parts : the four seasons.It's a tribute the director,Miss Emilie Thérond ,pays to her former teacher: I wish I had,like her,kept my old exercise books!Other former pupils intervene :to think that Monsieur Burel had the son,his father and sometimes even his granddad in his class! An infinite nostalgia emanates from the sequences in which the grown- ups evoke these bygone days .
We leave the movie overjoyed :even after he retires,Monsieur Burel tells his boys and girls he will be here if they run into difficulties in secondary school .
People who like "Etre Et Avoir" should watch this:it's at least as good ;it's probably one of the three best French films dealing with primary school ;the third one is a word of fiction,"L'Ecole Buissonnière " (1949)
Minor quibble: why not a Chanson Française to end the movie?
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