The Chorus [DVD] 
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French drama inspired by the 1947 film 'La Cage aux Rossignols'. Successful orchestra conductor Pierre Morhange (Jacques Perrin) returns home when his mother dies. He recollects his childhood inspirations through the pages of a diary kept by his old music teacher Clément Mathieu (Gérard Jugnot). Back in the late '40s, little Pierre (Jean-Baptiste Maunier) is the badly behaved son of single mother Violette (Marie Bunel). He attends a dreary boarding school presided over by strict headmaster Rachin (François Berléand). New teacher Mathieu brightens up the place and organises a choir, leading to the discovery of Pierre's musical talents.
By getting nominated for Academy Awards in both the Foreign Language Film and Best Song categories, Les Choristes (The Chorus) made a rare (for a European film) double impression at the 2004 Oscars. This sentimental tale follows the arrival of a new teacher at a remote boys school in 1949 France (the war is a largely unspoken but ghostly presence). With disciplinary problems rampant, and the policies of the old-fashioned headmaster not helping, Monsieur Mathieu decides to introduce choral singing as a way to bridge the gap with his students. You don't need a crystal ball to figure out where this will go, although the movie uses its atmospheric location and lush vocal arrangements well. Bald, dumpy Gerard Jugnot provides a refreshingly offbeat hero: he's sort of a younger Philippe Noiret. Director Christophe Barratier works in the winsome-cute mode that makes a certain kind of French movie into an overly sweet bon bon, although at least this bon bon sings. --Robert Horton, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
The film begins in the future, and then is mostly a flashback. A new teacher arrives at Fond D'Etang, a school for difficult boys, to teach music, and immediately discovers the harsh discipline and the bad behaviour which forced the man he is replacing to retire. His unusual methods soon warm the boys to him, and he achieves a lot. There is some wonderful music, especially the soloist, Pierre. Pepinot, a very young boy, is adorable, and he partly gives the film its touching ending.
Whatever standard your French is, even if you watch it in English; whether you like this sort of music or not, you cannot fail to love this film. It's hard for me to put my finger on what exactly makes it appeal so much to me, but the characters are probably its best feature. They are well developed, lovable (or hatable, in the headmaster's case) and they make the film stick in your mind. Make sure you give this a try!
Don't be put off by the subtitles, the characters and plot make you forget you have to read them, even if French is not your first language.
I loved every moment of this, and watched it twice two days running. Gorgeous.
The DVD offers a good 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, trailer and a good 72-minute documentary. Highly recommended.
The film opens with a scene which recalls 'Cinema Paradiso', with the successful maestro being called back to relive his childhood and rediscover the man who had transformed his life by giving him self-confidence, self-respect, and an abiding passion. We step back, down the years, to post-War France, there to meet the unassuming little schoolteacher who is about to start a new job in a boarding school for orphans and strays.
Clément (Gérard Jugnot) sets about transforming an abusive, exploitative regime by forming a bunch of the boys into a choir. In doing so, he gives them discipline and self-discipline, a sense of self worth, and the potential for clandestine rebellion against the school's headmaster. While the process also involves Clément in a rediscovery of his own passion for music and commitment to teaching as a transformative, not a controlling profession, it also leads to him falling in love with the mother of one of the boys.
There are echoes of post-War France - the struggle to rediscover democracy and throw off the bureaucratic shackles and centralist politics which would dog the Republic in the post-Vichy years.Read more ›
This film is about a boys reform school where conditions and treatment of the boys are harsh but it was uplifting nevertheless. I felt there were one or two loose story ends that might have been pursued a little further. Basically I would have liked another 20 minutes of it. But loved the ending. Well worth watching and well worth buying to have on your shelf.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic and timeless and somewhat romanticised musical film of post-WW2 orphans in a French orphanage and the arrival of a new teacher who teaches them to sing. Read morePublished 2 months ago by EllenMay
What a lovely film. I could watch it over and Over again. Would recommend it to everyone.Published 3 months ago by Bookworm
I don't usually watch sub-titled films but having been recommended to it, decided to!
What a wonderful film - beautiful music, beautifully acted and kept me engaged right to... Read more
Lovely film. Unfortunately I had a problem with the dvd which sticks at a certain point. I only watched it recently - a month or two after purchasing and found the problem but it's... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Hazel Smith