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Class [Blu-ray] [US Import]
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The Film The Class
Written by and starring real-life teacher François Bégaudeau, The Class (winner of the Palme d'Or in 2008 at Cannes) is a schoolroom drama that avoids all the genre's clichés to stage a fresh and energetic look at the complex boundaries between teacher and student. Based on Bégaudeau's autobiographical novel Entre Les Murs, the action takes place entirely within school walls, but beneath the authentic chatter of middle-school students is a complex spectrum of economic, social and ethnic tensions, imported from the outside world and the root of several outbursts of rebellion and good humour, whether the broody defiance of Malian student Souleymane or the playful impudence of Esmerelda (who challenges the use of traditional Gallic names in black-board examples of French grammar). It is with this complicated cross-section of young minds that their teacher, Monsieur Marin, must engage, redirecting his students' energies into productive lessons with an artful mix of Socratic challenges, liberal empathy and iron authority. The performance is relentless. A single slip can--and eventually does--lead to a standoff, but the central narrative comes second to the inspirational teaching: watching a man of good-conscience diligently create the optimum conditions for emerging intellects is uplifting and enjoyable. --Leo Batchelor --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Also contains a very young Michael J Fox, who's brilliance as an actor shines forth in what is one of his early movies on his path to Back To The Future fame.
Working in a tough Parisian suburb, teacher François Marin (François Bégaudeau) thinks that he can turn around the fortunes of his unruly class. That is until his class turn on him.
The winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival should definitely come with a health warning prior to viewing. It should warn all potential teachers to avoid watching the film, as once they watch it, they're likely to be put off teaching for life. They should then be provided with an emergency copy of School of Rock and a tub of Ben and Jerry's.
The Class's original French title, Entre les murs, or Between The Walls, is probably a better title for the film, as the classroom at its centre serves as a cauldron of clashes, not only between the teacher and his 24 students, but between the students themselves. During the school year, there are many ups and downs, with the cauldron continuing to bubble and boil over at certain points. What makes the film all the more brilliant is that this could be any class, in any school.
François Bégaudeau has the real life experience, having written a book on his time in the classroom and this comes across in his performance in the lead role. He is an idealist, constantly pushing the boulder up the hill, simply for it to continue slipping back down. The use of real students, teachers and parents also adds to the authenticity of the film.
A lesson in conflict and communication, The Class has much to teach us about education and attitudes towards it.
The film offers no solutions to the underlying conflict between teachers and pupils. There is no Hollywood-type ending and the film is all the better for it.
I had a few problems with the translated subtitles and would have appreciated subtitles in French to understand some of the slang the children used.
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