8 July 2011

Être et avoir

To do his bit for Paris in July the bf (although he is reading a frightfully 'English' book at the moment - see 'Seed's reads' below) is trying to brush up and learn a little more of the langue d'amour. I therefore thought it the ideal moment to reacquaint ourselves with Jojo and the gang in the glorious French film/'documentary' Être et avoir (to be and to have). This film follows the daily lives of a group of children aged 4-12 and their beloved teacher Monsieur Lopez over an ordinary school year in rural France. As the director Nicholas Philibert explains in the interview included on the DVD, his interest before beginning this project lay in exploring the seemingly banal, utterly ordinary aspects of daily life and revealing the absolute beauty in those very things.

This film is shot beautifully and we are privileged enough to witness some of the most hilarious (particularly with the younger children) touching and significant moments in the children's development, led by a man who, being both a loving yet firm pedagogue to the children, really does credit to an all-to-often underrated profession.

Have you ever seen anything cuter?!

The only little dampener was, whilst reading up on the extraordinary and unexpected success of this little film (particularly at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2002) the discovery that, following the release of the film and despite making countless positive comments in the press, M. Lopez decided to take legal action against the film's producers, claiming that the aggressive marketing (and subsequent success of the documentary) was never discussed before filming and something that had an extremely negative affect on some of the children. Although I can see how elements of this story could be true, particularly the children's experience of the entire process, I have to say that I still feel rather skeptical about and disappointed in this seemingly 'humble' teacher. What were his motives, you may ask, for fighting for compensation?.. *Sigh* Perhaps I am far too cynical...


  1. My parents gave this to me a few years back and I loved it. Your final paragraph adds an interesting slant to the film.

  2. I have never heard of this before. The bit you shared is very cute.
    It sounds as if the teacher felt exploited. Not a nice feeling

  3. Hi all

    This is a lovely snapshot of childhood, all the greater for being real people in a real part of rural France.

    Caroline - you have a point, my automatic reaction to the Guardian Newspaper article I linked to was a cynical one, feeling like he just wanted a big slice of money for the unexpected success of the film, but you do have a point. He seems a genuine chap onscreen, I hope he was motivated to take action for the right reasons.