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Reasons to study this film
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
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.