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Etre et Avoir [Blu-ray]
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Nicolas Philibert's mighty documentary about a single-class school in central France is as simple, fundamental and carefully constructed as a child's first lesson. Filmed with noticeable care, Etre et Avoir follows teacher Georges Lopez as he conducts his students (aged four to 12) through a year of primary-school studies, instructing them with the same unwavering patience whether they're taking dictation or sledging through the wilds.
Nicolas Philibert's mighty documentary about a single-class school in central France is as simple, fundamental and carefully constructed as a child's first lesson. Filmed with noticeable care, Etre et Avoir follows teacher Georges Lopez as he conducts his students (aged four to 12) through a year of primary-school studies, instructing them with the same unwavering patience whether they're taking dictation or sledging through the wilds. Philibert's technique--natural lighting, wide-angled close-ups and a compressed audio track that picks out a chorus of whispering--reconnects us to a child's view of the classroom, an enchanted world of table-top discoveries and minor miracles in which the teacher is often just a distant voice and a pair of demonstrating hands. To the cynical eye, there might be a touch of la France profonde in the film's admiration for Lopez and his apple-cheeked pupils--while the school's rural setting, with its stately agricultural rhythms, is a far cry from the troubled Parisian suburbs of 2008's The Class. Nonetheless, Philibert lays social politics aside to show young minds trying their teeth on life's larger concepts--whether it's Marie, a well-behaved four-year-old, politely retreating from a scary discussion about ghosts, or Jojo, her wide-eyed classmate, struggling to name the farthest number that can be counted. Impressively, these kids are never obviously aware of the cameras, proving the film-maker's maxim that you have to first withdraw in order to get up close. --Leo Batchelor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This is fly-on-the-wall stuff, a chronicle of the lives of Georges Lopez and his dozen pupils. It is shot with such grace, it is shot so unobtrusively, it makes the vast, fashionable bulk of reality television look like reprehensible trash. The people in this film are not posing and preening themselves for the camera. What we get, instead, is honesty and humanity.
We watch the kids having fights, struggling to grasp concepts, sometimes bored, sometimes excited, playing and working, just being natural. George Lopez comes across as a man who is passionate about his work - he can be sternly assertive at times, but his approach is based around rational discourse, about explaining and listening to explanation, about encouraging the children to think and not simply to behave.
We learn little about Monsieur Lopez - the son of a Spanish immigrant labourer who rose in station by becoming a teacher, he has been in the profession for some thirty years, has occupied his present position for twenty ... and is about to retire.Read more ›
It looks deceptively simple, and will touch you in the simplest and purest way. For a while you are truly in the heart of someone else's life - someone who cares about the small, deeply important things.
Once you have seen this film, you will always smile at the sight of Jo-Jo on the cover. The memory will enrich your life for a moment, which is as good as it gets in my opinion.
The continuous comparison between the changing seasons and the development of the school children is beautiful and completely unclichéd.
The school children, both in the school and at home are magical. Some have cast doubt over the authenticity of the scenes where parents work with their children. Whether these scenes are truly real or not- the actions in the classroom are clearly pure and untouched by the director.
This is essentially a documentary, but there are so many fascinating switches between different scenes and the changes of the main subject matter. We look at the life of young school children, then the older children, then the older children who will soon leave for secondary school. We see pupil interaction with their peers and their wonderful teacher- who we then learn even more about.
Basically- completely absorbing. Plus the French is so simple in much of the film, that people with a relatively sound knowledge can understand it quite easily without captions- which is quite a confidence boost for learners!
It's secret is in the waiting. This has not just taken a year to make it has taken hours of editing. The children are unaware of the camera and it is the eccentricity of youth that propels its entertainment value across the language/culture diivde. So we see a four year old artfully plea for his playtime to be restored and the collective fear felt by the school as it visits the secondary college, that some of the class will be attending the following year.
All life is here; birth, death, laughter tears, not least from the very accomplished teacher as he says goodbye to his charges at the end of the academic year.
There is nothing more moving than the truth and this is a convincing testament, for this reviewer anyway, of why a career working with children has so many benefits beyond the salary cheque.
For this reason it is an inspiration.
The extras are negligible unless you are obsessive about technical details.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lovely, genuine film which is humanist perfection and the product of a great tradition of belief in the moral rectitude of ordinary people and their everyday struggle. Read morePublished 7 hours ago by Mario
A lovely film, reminds me of my time in a Primary School, children are the same no matter where they live.Published 1 month ago by Eileen Honeybun
Prompt delivery and fantastic film. DVD was fine. Thank you.Published 4 months ago by Mr M J Harris
A lovely little intimate documentary of a school that only has a few children of different ages. I really enjoyed getting to see how the teacher handled some situations and how he... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Peter Richardson