5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2007
I have now watched this film three times. I think it is one of the most moving and beautiful little films I have ever seen. This film does so much to tell us that there still exists the ability to teach and inspire children. It also gives hope to the general public that there are teachers who care in the 21st century.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2007
I completely agree with all the other 5* reviews- a mesmerising, enchanting documentary, which employs many of the conventions of fictional film-making (close-ups interspersed with landscape long-shots, no 'didactic' voiceover of a regular doc) with the ring of truth which only comes through real people doing their real, unscripted thing. It is quite amazing how wonderful this teacher, Georges Lopez, is. He has a natural rapport with the children which makes the viewer want to go back to being 5 years old, just so you can have him as your teacher. The kids themselves are achingly cute, especially Jojo with his never-quite-clean hands (see front cover), and by the end both of us watching were in tears. The scenes are so authentic and so resonant that they remain in your mind long after the film's ended, and I'm determined to watch everything else by Philibert now. The best French movie I've seen, along with 'Amelie'.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2005
This film was recommended to me as "balmy" but utterly captivating. Not quite knowing what to make of this review of it, I watched the film with a little trepidation. But after the first 10 minutes I completely became enthralled by the children in the small school, their individual characters so effectively painted by the director in such a short space of time. The scenes in which the problem children such as Jojo and Olivier have one to ones with the teacher, Mr Lopez, demonstrate such compassion on the part of the teacher and the director, and show what an amazing teacher Mr Lopez really is. Watching him with this small group of youngsters was so inspiring and made me feel genuinely sad that I did not have a teacher like that when I was young. I was quite sad when the film ended.
Watch this film and be inspired. You will be grinning from ear to ear!!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2007
Watch this film when the world seems a cold mean place. This film isn't one of the mass-produced "heart-warming" films that flood DVD shelves in town - This film has a bitter sweet tone in the background all the way through, which makes the events that take place in the film so profound.
The story isn't a particularly a happy one. But ... I belive this film affirms life.
I am sure you will take out this film from your DVD collection from time to time for there are times when you need to remind yourself that life isn't that bad after all.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It's hard to put your finger on what exactly it is that makes "Être et Avoir" (To Be and To Have) such a magical, heartwarming and compelling film. First released in 2002, and newly released on DVD with English subtitles in June 2009, the film has enjoyed critical acclaim and international success, in my mind for good reason.
On the face of it the subject matter doesn't seem that promising, a documentary maker, one Nicolas Philibert, followed the progress of a class in a primary school in France for six months. This, however, is no reality TV special - somehow the director has managed in this film to capture something special and even the subtitles don't detract from what is a beautifully shot insight into the lives of the children and their teacher.
Apparently Philibert visited over 100 schools before he settled on the one he chose, which is in a village in the Auvergne area. In rural France, you will often find that primary schools are very small, older children get bussed into bigger towns or are housed in State School boarding dormitories, a strange idea to us in the UK. In smaller French villages you will find some primary schools will only have one class for all ages. This is the case here where there are 13 children in the class from age 4-11, who all have to be taught at the same time and at differing levels. Georges Lopez, their teacher, is in his last year of teaching as the story of the children's school year, or part of it, unfolds.
The camera somehow manages to seem unintrusive as we see the daily ups and downs of school life for the children, and the way that M.Lopez, their teacher gently guides them in their learning and helps them develop. He creates a classroom where you feel everyone, including the teacher himself is learning, it's the kind of place where you feel you would like to be.
Still, pinpointing what exactly makes this film so wonderful is problematic; perhaps seeing little Alizé's lips wobble when she realises someone has run off with part of her precious eraser collection that she has carefully arranged on her desk, or watching Jojo, who features on the dvd cover trying to wash his paint covered hands properly, makes us remember the children that we ourselves once were. Maybe an Ofsted-free and more spontaneous environment where taking the children out to sledge in the snow or on a walk in the field is still a simple and acceptable thing is a reminder of how learning should be - in any case the film is fascinating and the 100 minutes it lasts are enjoyable ones.
There are plenty of lovely shots of the scenery, but this is no idealistic or airbrushed portrayl of school life - we also see the fallings out of the children, and watching the teacher trying to prepare a shy and ungainly Nathalie for "big school" is almost heartbreaking. Somehow through this film you sense that their teacher is really attached to them, despite his very formal manner at times, and you, the viewer get attached to them too. Little insights into their lives in a rural area, where they drive tractors, or do their homework in a farmhouse kitchen are fascinating. It's a taste of a different world to the one I live in.
I've watched this film many times, but every time I notice something new, and I always wonder what happened to the characters in the film when the cameras left. The teacher, to me, is inspirational, and really seems to be passionate about his work. As is common in France he lives above the school, and you know that as he retires he will have to move on. I was a little disappointed somehow to learn that after the international success of this film M.Lopez apparently decided he deserved a share of the profits rather than a nominal fee, he lost his case it seems, but I guess retired teachers have material needs too. It was a pity to learn this as if ever a teacher seemed driven by vocation it would be Georges Lopez in this film.
As you can tell I thoroughly recommend this film, some of the filming is a little grainy, it was filmed without added artifical light in the classroom to avoid intrusion as much as possible, as a whole the film is beautifully crafted and the music which accompanies it is fitting too. This is just a perfect film.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2006
This is a great film/documentary on Childhood. The type of film that makes you laugh, cry and think. If you fancy a change from those dull blockbusters, here is your film.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2010
If you're looking for a fast moving film, look elsewhere, but if you appreciate a story which truely captures rural french life, this is it. It's also great for anybody learning french as much of the conversation is with young children so the vocabulary & the pace of the conversation is easier to pick up.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2009
A wonderful film - it makes you wish all teachers were like this. An enchanting view of life in a rural community school - showing traditional and old fashioned teaching methods. A place where the teacher knows all his pupils and is able to interact with them on a one to one basis.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2003
I saw this film on BBC 4 a few months ago, and have been eagerly awaiting the release of the dvd. I heard it being discussed on the radio, and the total enthusiasm of the prsenter for this film, I was somewhat skeptical however, and didn't really believe it culd be as heart warming as this presenter was saying (For anyone who listens to Virgin, it was the Pete and Geoff breakfast show, in their little review of whats on tv tonight. those who know it will know they are often irreverent and sarcastic about films and tv, so it was a bit strange to hear the enthusiasm!) I believe he said "it makes you want to be a teacher" So I started watching somewhere in the middle, almost immediately i regretted missing out on those frst minutes, each second of this film was an utter joy. The naturalness of the children and the care and love which their teacher so clearly felt for them was deeply moving. Each child had their own character, from the happy-g-lucky mischevious Jo-Jo no doubt the star amongst the children to the scared 13year old who wasn't quite sure she wanted to go up to the middle school. This film makes you laugh, smile and cry. It is a beautiful, simple film, and the best thing about it is that its a documentary - this teacher is genuine, and the children are real, not precocious child stars but real, unpredictable children. This is the best documentary i have ever seen, and I cannot wait to get this dvd and watch it over and over again!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2008
..nothing much happens and it is the quietness of this film (particularly compared to life with my own children!) that strikes you. The sense that here is a truly inspirational teacher, doing an excellent job quietly, calmly and with great love for the children builds throughout the film. Absorbing and wonderful..the patience of a dedicated documentary maker pays off.