French subscription cinema

Site: dolanguages
Course: dolanguages
Book: French subscription cinema
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Date: Monday, 17 January 2022, 8:02 AM

Description

All the French content on the site is available to subscribers to the French package at £30.   You can purchase your subscription for French only here, or you could opt for all languages at £45.   Your login details will be set up manually and sent to your email address.  

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1. Find out more about exercise types

See introductory video on home page for detailed walk-through of the exercise types   

Studying cinema as we have seen is a challenge as sometimes capturing the message of the film through the prism of a range of senses can seem out of reach especially when working in the target language.    The dolanguages resources below contain the following elements (not all necessarily all of them) to help you tackle.

Gapped summary with full vocabulary

The summaries capture the essential elements of the film at the level of detail required at the same time as requiring students to find the appropriate part of key verbs.   This provides a quick aide-mémoire of the film when required as well as boosting vocabulary relevant to the content.

Questions

Detailed questions covering the full film require detailed recall of the content and can be used orally and/or in writing.   

The missing storyboard

This is available for Au revoir les enfants, Les 400 coups and La haine and the drawings are designed to make students aware of the nature of key shots/scenes in the film which may illustrate key thematic/character points.

Character

The character profile tool gives a full range of appropriate adjectives to enable students to describe protagonists in a sophisticated manner.   Suggested sentence starts are given to encourage a high quality of language.

Motivation of characters

The motivation of characters tool is a sentence builder encouraging thinking skills.   Using a wide range of second verb infinitives students can weigh up why the protagonists act in a particular way in a sophisticated way.

Character arc tool

This tool enables students to capture the state of mind of the protagonists at the start of a film and track how various turning points and events affect their mentality, right through to the dénouement to evaluate whether a real change has been effected.

Contextualised grammar

The A factor exercises concentrate on encouraging students to vary the structures they use for writing the essay, including the present participle, the passive and the present subjunctive.    Exercises are given in context covering the full length of the film.

Multi-tense tool

Students appreciate being able to see examples of contextualised sentences with key verbs used in the full range of tenses in a simple exercise to increase awareness

Direct/Indirect speech

Students link direct speech quotations to the protagonists and then transform the direct speech to indirect speech sentences, a key process for giving key evidence in essay writing.

Essay writing process

List of unused essay titles for practice whilst going through film.

Essay planning and sample essay

An essay plan using a template is used with advice on creating each step of the process.

The sample essay is designed to demonstrate successful essay techniques.

Modified essays

Student essays with comments on how to improve them and in some cases corrected versions.

Useful external links

There is a considerable amount of useful material available from film related websites, universities and exam boards and we have linked to some of the best examples.

 

 

 

 

 



2. Les 400 coups

400 coups


Reasons to study this film
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Very much centred around the effects of parenting on the way a young person grows up this film would complement the family topic common to all boards and also anything to do with social problems as similar language revolving around cause and effect would be required.

The interest of the film
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It was essential for Truffaut that this his first film was a success after his continuous castigation in Cahiers du cinéma  of the "cinéma de papa", studio based adaptations of novels which bore in many cases little relation to the public's lives.

Autobiographical with certain changes made to try to avoid embarrassment to his parents the film traced the early life of a youngster who feels neglected and undervalued.   The shocking way in which he quickly ends up being completely rejected and handed over to the authorities is filmed sensitively and without pulling punches although compared to modern films on similar social topics its treatment is relatively mild.  It triumphed at the Cannes film festival and Truffaut's directing career was launched successfully as what that of his alter-ego Jean-Pierre Léaud who plays Antoine Doinel.

There are lots of interesting "motifs" to notice, not least the fact that everyone seems to be stealing from everyone else.    Reference to writing nod towards the autobiographical protagonists developing love of writing.    It is thus an interesting film from the point of view of cinematographic technique as one might expect from a director who would become one of the key representatives of the Nouvelle Vague.

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400 coups

3. Au revoir les enfants

au revoir les enfants

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Reasons to study this film
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It is difficult to think of a film more closely linked to the psyche of its director.  Louis Malle experienced the events portrayed at the end of his film at the age of 10 and thought about them daily.   He waited for the appropriate moment to make the film and it never came but he made it anyway.  He was advised not to make a film on the German occupation in WW2 as supposedly this was not a topic which would "sell".   He made it and proved the contrary.

The interest of the film
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The film explores the lives of young students at a Catholic boarding school in a small town through the eyes of Julien Quentin who loosely represents the director as a child.    The secret arrival of a group of boys arouses Julien's curiosity particularly the identity of Jean Bonnet who becomes a thorn in his flesh as he threatens his place at the top of the pecking order.

The film is a succession of revelations as to the identity of Jean Bonnet as scenes representing his Jewishness pile up.  Using a range of motifs the director manoeuvres the two boys towards an eventual friendship using for example literature as a means of communication:    Who is your favourite musketeer? is a typical opening line in one of their conversations.

When their friendship finally blossoms after the very evocative visit to a restaurant where the gamut of French opinion on the German occupation is represented the boys relive the first (long) part of the film but in tandem this time before the inevitable outcome.

Malle is well known for his refusal to side with one side in historical situations and the ambiguity of his presentation of the Germans and the responsibility for the final tragedy provides plenty of room for interesting discussion and material for essays.

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au revoir les enfants

4. Un long dimanche de fiançailles

un long dimanche de fiancailles

Why study this film
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After his world-wide success with Amélie Poulain, Jeunet had money thrown at him by Hollywood to make a film which would benefit from production values to transcend those of French cinema.   A film covering in flashback the first world war and specifically the treatment meted out to soldiers who deliberately wounded themselves to get away from the front, it presents the horrors of war very graphically.   However the main theme is the post-war quest by Mathilde a young Bretonne to find her fiancé Manech who has vanished after his spell in no-mans' land, his punishment for his self-inflicted injury.   As a study of cinema techniques of many kinds this film is very interesting indeed; whether the film dwells too long on detail at the expense of a more fluid narrative could be a topic of discussion.

The interest of the film
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Has Manech survived and is Mathilde right to continue her search to find him?     The convoluted enquiries she carries out thanks to her ability to pay using her inheritance leads to many dramatic, improbable, even humorous situations each of which fills in part of a complex jigsaw puzzle.   Her long suffering relations with whom she lives in an idyllic part of Britanny give in to Mathilde's optimism against their better will and frequent flashbacks slowly reveal how Manech might have survived.  In the original book Mathilde's perambulations are represented in frequent letters but Jeunet converts more prosaic reports into much more cinematic experiences.  The biggest struggle is against military authorities who are determined to close the book on an embarrassing sequence of events and in one of the most exciting moments we see Mathilde stealing documents in the most acrobatic manner possible.   As entertainment the film is perhaps rather long as we are sure from the start that Manech must be alive and the ending is almost an anti-climax.   Once the students have managed to get their heads round the plot and subplots there is plenty to talk about and talk about in essays.

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un long dimanche de fiancailles

5. Entre les murs

entre les murs

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Reasons to study this film

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In order to take the pulse of the French nation and its young people this film is a good start and its themes would fit in well with the exam boards which have immigration and its issues on their syllabus.    The larger French cities have a very multi-cultural population and the way its young people think, their preoccupations and their constant questioning of the educational system strike a cord in other countries too where similar situations pertain.

The interest of the film
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The main focus of the film apparently is  Bégadeau who plays the teacher and originally wrote the book on which it is based;;   how he interacts with his class and individuals provides most of the action.    Cantet used a class of young people and showed them how to interact with Bégadeau and improvise with discussions in class developing organically within the group rehearsals.    Identity has become a political and social centre of debate in France and it is well represented in this film.   The fact that the teacher uses anglosaxon names to illustrate grammatical examples, that students are not convinced that "normal people" use the imperfect subjunctive and that pétasse doesn't have to have a very pejorative meaning are all examples of how the French language takes centre stage.    François the teacher after trying to hone the subtlety of use of the language by his students fallls into the trap of using the last example mentioned to one of his most awkward students.   The ramifications of the unfortunate choice of words demonstrate the way in which situations can go from bad to worse very quickly.    Issues around ethnicity, immigration and the role of language interlink in an interesting way giving us plenty to discuss and write about in this film.

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Entre les murs

 

 

6. L'auberge espagnole

l'auberge espagnole

SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Reasons to study this film

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With its cast of attractive young people engaged in what people do when they go to university, living in "co-location", coming on to each other, discovering the nuances of sexuality and most importantly having fun, this film is guaranteed to please for at least the first sitting.   For all its easy charm and humour many interesting topics are covered within the film so it lends itself to discussion.  If not used as the final film to study it could be a good "trainer" film for discussing film techniques etc.

The interest of the film
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Xavier is invited to meet a friend of his father who can help him get a plum job if he learns Spanish, so anxious not to turn down this offer he signs up to the Erasmus scheme the aim of which is to give a more European perspective to the EU's young.   Leaving behind his beautiful young girlfriend he is interviewed by the co-locataires of a flat in Barcelona where his (and our) views of national stereotypes, sexuality and power relationships are challenged.   Klapisch uses all the recently developed techniques made possible by digital technology to create a film which is light and cheerful, full of amusing (or annoying!) special effects.   

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L'auberge espaghone

7. La haine

la haine

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Reasons to study the film
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La haine recently turned 25 years old and is generally reckoned not to have aged too much in its presentation of the relationship between young people and the police although one would need to watch Les misérables by Ladj Ly to get a more up to date version of how violence has increased due to drug dealing.   One needs to be careful in how one relates the content of the film to immigration related topics as Kassovitz avoided including identity issues except "en passant".  The big divide in the film is between banlieue and the capital rather than schisms between ethnic groups which in any case are more and more difficult to define.

The interest of the film
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The long opening sequence of rioting leaves no doubt as to the direction of travel in this film with the exploding globe announcing that something dramatic is due to happen.   The film tracks over the course of a day  the three friends, Hubert from an African background, Saïd from a north African background and Vinz from a Jewish background and demonstrates the violent, self-perpetuating effects of distrust between the authorities and the impoverished population of the suburban social housing projects.    Essentially seen through Vinz's eyes the film interweaves incidents of violence with calm periods of story telling, even humour as it inexorably counts down to the final minute of the film.   Vinz, thanks to the efforts of his friend Hubert is cured of his desire for revenge on the police;   the police on the other hand are generally but now always seen as the cause of the ambient distrust which reigns in the suburbs.    Students of the film should be wary of over generalising from the film however as the French banlieue is a much more civilised place than portrayed here.   There is a considerable amount of help available to teach this film and it is relatively easy to relate cinema techniques to the transmission of the key messages.

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la haine

8. Intouchables

intouchables

SUBSCRIPTION NOW INCLUDES WEBINAR RECORDING ON ANALYTICAL WRITING FOR THE TITLE AND DEDICATED 22 PAGE BOOKLET 

Reasons to study the film
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A popular hit at the box office in France is usually likely to include much humour and probably some stereotyping with a little reality thrown in.   All three of these are the case with Intouchables which is worth teaching on several levels.    The topic of family is important within the film as are, tangentially, discrimination and life in the banlieue.  Mostly the film is about two men, one white, one black, who despite being poles apart in so many ways, manage to hit it off and depend on each other.   Based on a true story, the film depends very much on the charisma of Omar Sy as Driss whose vitality contrasts with the physical handicap of Philippe. played by François Cluzet.

The interest of the film
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The film thrives on humour which results from the clash between polar opposites such as good versus bad taste, riches versus poverty, big house versus tiny flat, the informal versus the formal.   It is relatively easy for the student to collect the examples of these opposites as the relationship between Driss and Philippe develops.    Certainly Driss is a stereotype, the crook with a heart of gold who sorts things out in his own way;  this suits Philippe who hates to be pitied by the people around him.   Rather crusty and old-fashioned he gradually manages to impose some of his values on his "aide à la personne" although Driss's insouciant, steamroller-like way of operating has a more lasting effect on his boss's well-being and love life.

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intouchables

9. Les choristes

les choristes

Reasons to study this film
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Christophe Barratier the director of the film adapted this hit film from an earlier film about the redeeming effect of music and used the rapport de force between the failed teacher Clément Mathieu and the failed head teacher Rachin to create dramatic tension.   The themes of the film are rather too obvious to lend themselves to satisfying discussion so personally I would hesitate to teach this film but many people enjoy it and wish to study it.   

The interest of the film
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Clément Mathieu arrives at Fond de l'Etang boarding school for disturbed children to be met by Pépinot who is waiting for his (deceased) parents to turn up to take him away.    Scorned as nothing but a worthless "pion" Mathieu quickly realizes the potential of his charges and sets up a choir to the bemusement of the rest of the staff who adhere to the head's disciplinary policy of "Action-Réaction".   Mathieu discovers that there is a real star amongst his charges and one he finds it difficult, near impossible to win over but as this film is more of a fairy story, it happens and Pierre Morhange goes on to enjoy a stratospheric career.    Discussion will probably revolved around the contrasting characters of Rachin and Mathieu as well as differing approaches to education.

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Les choristes

10. Manon des Sources

Manon des sources

Raisons d'étudier ce film 
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The second of a diptyche (pair of films which belong together) Manon des Sources follows on from Jean de Florette and stars Manon the beautiful young daughter of Jean who discovers what the locals particularly the Soubeyran had done to her father.    Partly comic partly tragic which is what characterizes the work of the writer Pagnol, Claude Berri turns out a film which is beautiful to watch although it frequently turns to melodrama.

L'intérêt du film
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A film which idealizes the landscape and the lifestyle of "authentic" peasants in the early 20th century, the film traces Manon's search for revenge against the Soubeyran who through their blocking of the stream on her father's land unintentionally caused his death.    She falls for the new instituteur Bernard who sees her whilst he is searching for geological specimens.  At the same time the pathetic Ugolin Soubeyran courts her in the most ridiculous manner, a process varying between the hilarious and the toe-curling.    The biggest surprise is reserved for the last scene of the film which confirms the tragic nature of the film.    An interesting film to study from the point of view of stereotypes of the peasantry to the relationship between countryside dwellers and their precious environment.

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Manon des sources


11. La rafle

la rafle

Reasons to study this film

Roselyne Bosch made this film based on the stories of two people who escaped the fate of most of their family and friends and survived the infamous Rafle du Vel' d'Hiver.    The story is accurately told including the interweaving of reconstructions of scenes involving the key historical protagonists, Hitler, Laval and Pétain and René Bousquet with the Germans.   The basic facts of the film portray the events faithfully and this should back up the study of three occupation related topics for the WJEC board.  
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The interest of the film

The film depicts the events immediately before the rafle with much of the dialogue being exposition, that is explicitly relating to the pertinent facts, in this case the persecution of the Jews by the Vichy government.   This prevents the director from really developing characters as individuals, indeed she is accused of overplaying the sentimental portrayal of the children, particularly Momo, a sweet and innocent little boy.    The horror of the situation in the cycle stadium is well portrayed and basically the film oscillates between acts of kindness and acts of evil which is something that can be commented on relatively easily in essays.    Teachers need to make sure they help students work out who is who and manage the many names of characters.
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La rafle