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A french melody: Les Choristes

Foreign films are generally produced on small budgets. They also succeed in frequently telling great stories. This is the case with a charming little 2004 French film called Les Choristes (The Chorus), in which our Wikipedia Article is focused on.

Les Choristes is a post-World War II film of nostalgia, optimism and authenticity. This gentle drama, nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award, is from first-time French director Christophe Barratier. It features a music teacher named Clement Mathieu (Gerard Jugnot) who lands a job at a boys’ boarding school settled by delinquents and orphans. The school, run by a martinet headmaster (François Berléand), is a place for misfits and losers.  Sensing potential in these exuberant boys Mathieu forms a choir to lead in his charges through the transforming power of song. He knows his actions will likely end his career but he presses on courageously.

Clement Mathieu demonstrates some of the greatest virtues: love, patience and self-discipline. The story is told from the perspective of two boys who are reunited many years after their time at the dreary boarding school. The opportunity to reflect on how their lives were changed by this one great teacher leads them to consider how powerful Mathieu’s influence really was in shaping their lives.

This is the formula used (with some variations) by many films about music teachers, such as Mr. Holland’s OpusMusic of the Heart, and non-music teachers, like To Sir With LoveDangerous MindsStand and DeliverDead Poets Society.

Les Choristes is a charming story of hope infused with so much optimism and nostalgia. Genuine, heartwarming, and completely inspiring.


1. The Chorus (Les Choristes). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 21 March 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Choristes

2. “Les Choristes” – The Little French Film That Could. Annabelle Robertson, Entertainment Critic. Thursday, January 27, 2005. http://www.crosswalk.com/culture/movies/features/les-choristes-%E2%80%93-the-little-french-film-that-could-1309685.html

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