Category Archives: Film

Entre les murs (The Class): What does the teacher call his students?

posted by Simon Kemp

(This is the fifth post in an occasional series asking and answering a key question about the books and films on the A-level French syllabus. You can find the others by clicking the ‘A-level texts’ tag at the end of this post.)

Entre les murs (The Class) is a 2008 film about a class of teenagers in an inner-city Paris school and their teacher, M. Marin. It stars François Bégaudeau as the teacher, who also wrote the screenplay, adapted from a novel he wrote inspired by his own teaching experiences.

If you don’t know the film, here’s a subtitled version of the trailer:

The turning point in the film, and one of the most dramatic moments in the story, centres on a single word. Since the start of the film, M. Marin has had a teasing, sometimes slightly mocking attitude towards the students, which has been met with a healthy disrespect coming back at him. On this day, though, he pushes things too far and openly insults two of his students. A line has been crossed, the class is in uproar, and there will be serious consequences for teacher and pupils alike.

To set the scene: Esmerelda and Louise are the class representatives, who, as part of their role, get to sit in on teachers’ meetings. The previous day they attended such a meeting and annoyed M. Marin with their whispering and giggling. Today in class he discovers that they have passed on sensitive information from the meeting to their classmates, including some negative remarks he made about one of them. As the mood in the class turns mutinous and M. Marin gets increasingly flustered, he starts to criticise the two girls for how they behaved during the meeting, and the following exchange occurs:

Louise : Mais nous, on a fait juste notre rôle, hein, rien de plus !

Esmerelda : On dit ce qui s’est passé au conseil de classe.

M. Marin : Ouais, bien sûr, ouais. Je n’avais pas cette impression-là, moi. Quand je vous ai vues ricaner là, un moment pendant le conseil, moi j’ai eu un peu mal, ouais ? Ça m’a fait un peu mal pour vous.

Esmerelda : Ah, bon ?

M. Marin : Et j’ai trouvé que c’était ni le lieu ni le moment de le faire. Et que c’était pas très sérieux pour tout dire, d’accord ?

Esmerelda : Ouais, ben, ça dérangeait personne en tout cas.

M. Marin : Ah, mais si ! Si, si. Ah, non, non, non, non, non. Moi, ça me dérangeait, et je crois en plus pouvoir dire que ça dérangeait des autres aussi.

Esmerelda : Non, non, non. Ça dérangeait que vous.

M. Marin : Si, si. Moi, je suis désolé, mais rire comme ça en plein conseil de classe, c’est ce que j’appelle une attitude de pétasses.

Louise : Quoi ?

Esmerelda : Eh, mais vous pétez un câble ou quoi ?

What did he just call them? Here’s how the English subtitles translate the dialogue:

We’re just doing our job. / Yeah.

We say what happens at the staff meeting.

Yes, of course.

I didn’t get that feeling

When I saw you two giggling, I felt bad.

I felt bad for you.

Really? / It was not the time or the place to giggle.

That’s not responsible.

Well, it didn’t bother anyone.

Yes, it did.

It bothered me and the others as well. / No way.

To giggle during a meeting like that is behaving like a slut.

What?

Are you out of your mind?

The English insult in the subtitles certainly works in the film. It would believably trigger the student outrage against the teacher and the disciplinary proceedings that follow. But is it right?

When they come to talk about the insult later on, the student and the teacher have very different ideas about what the word means:

 

Esmerelda : Déjà, pour moi, pétasse, ça veut dire prostituée.

M. Marin : Une pétasse, c’est une fille pas maligne qui ricane bêtement.

 

And dictionaries also disagree. The Petit Robert defines pétasse as :

prostituée  [employé le plus souvent comme injure]

while Le Dictionnaire de la Zone, which specializes in up-to-the-minute slang usage, says it means :

 femme d´allure vulgaire, provocante, aguichante

which, while maybe not as innocent as M. Marin’s own definition of the word, is closer to his version of it than it is to Esmerelda’s.

So it does seem that M. Marin’s insult, while it’s definitely inappropriate language for the classroom, might genuinely mean different things to different people, especially if they’re people of different ages and backgrounds like M. Marin and Esmerelda. He thinks he’s accusing Esmerelda and Louise of behaving like dumb, giggling girls; they hear him calling them prostitutes.

Pity the poor translators who had to try to get these nuances across in the English subtitles. I think we can probably agree that they didn’t quite manage it, and I think we can also probably agree that we couldn’t have managed any better if it had been up to us to do it. Sometimes there simply is no word in English that will translate the full meaning of a French one, with all its connotations and ambiguities. Lucky for us, then, that we can deal with the French words directly, without having to rely on the subtitles!

French Film Competition – The Winners

 

posted by Simon Kemp

As promised last week, here are extracts from the winning entries in our French film competition.

First, here is part of Sophie Still’s reimagining of the ending of Jean de Florette. Our judges said her new end to the story ‘both captured the mood and character of the film and dramatically reworked the ending’.

Manon is standing, holding a furry, wriggling mass in her arms. Once again, she is standing in Ugolin’s garden and once again, he is nowhere to be found. She approaches another flowerbed of plants and vegetables, crouches and sets the rabbit down in the soil.

Manon: There you are, little rabbit.

The rabbit sniffs at a bean plant and begins to nibble on a lettuce leaf.

Manon: That’s right. Feel free to eat whatever you want!

Suddenly an out-of-breath Ugolin rushes into the garden.

Ugolin: (holding up the secateurs, shouting angrily) Looking for something? How dare you destroy my flowers! Do you know how much they were worth?

Manon jumps in surprise, revealing the rabbit which is munching happily on the vegetables. He screams.

My plants! That’s it you’ve had it now!

Ugolin lunges towards the flowerbed. Manon screams and backs away quickly but he grabs the rabbit instead and dangles it by its ears.

Manon: (shouting) No! Put him down! Don’t touch my rabbit!

Ugolin: (grinning manically) But little girl, he’s not your rabbit anymore. He has come into my garden and eaten my plants – that makes him a pest, which means I’m allowed to do this…

He drops the rabbit onto the ground in front of him and snatches up the shovel that was leaning against the wall of the house. He raises it above his head.

Manon: (screaming) No! No!

Ugolin brings down the shovel and crushes the rabbit. Manon bursts into tears and screams and screams. Before he can do anything else, she dives in, scoops up the rabbit’s broken body and runs as fast as she can down the hillside. Ugolin calls after her.

Ugolin: Come back in here again and you’ll be next!

******

Manon hands the rabbit to Jean, who examines it carefully.

Jean: Oh my! Poor creature. Did a fox do this?

She wipes a tear from her eye and sniffles but does not reply. Jean picks up his shovel and begins to dig.

Jean: We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Monsieur –

Manon: (quietly) Pierre

Jean: Monsieur Pierre who lived a short but happy life. He loved lettuce leaves and we loved him. He will be missed.

He picks up the rabbit and is placing it carefully in its deep grave when he nearly drops it in surprise.

What is this? The bottom of this grave is full of mud! But if there is mud, that must mean that there is—

Manon: (bursts out) Water!

Secondly, here is an extract from Lidija Beric’s new ending for Paris nous appartient, which the judges described as a ‘brilliant and ingenious reworking’ which ‘perfectly captures the darkness and complexity of the original’.

« Pourquoi lui as-tu dit de venir? »
Nos yeux se sont rencontrés et je l’ai vu, j’ai vu ce mélange de haine et d’amour quand il m’a regardée.
‘Terry !’
Je n’ai daigné répondre. Nous avons attendu dans le silence comme les ombres calmes au milieu d’une tempête.
Les pas faibles d’Anne ont soudain pu être écoutés et Philip a craqué. Il a crié encore « Pourquoi ? Pourquoi lâche –»
« Il est nécessaire qu’elle vienne. » Ma voix était monotone.
Les coups frappés à la porte ont transpercé l’air comme des balles.
« Ta nécessité est arrivée. » Il a craché.
« Comment oses-tu? Je n’ai rien ! Je n’ai rien sans mon enfant ! C’est toi, tu as tous ce que tu veux-»
« Tais-toi! Elle est folle, ton enfant, elle sera bientôt sur le point de mourir! Quand oublieras-tu la passé et te concentreras-tu à l’avenir ? Paris est en danger des forces étrangères. Si nous restions là sans rien faire-»
« Je vous écoute ! Terry ! » a-t-Anne poussé des cris.
Je n’ai réagi qu’en baissant ma voix. « Pourquoi penses-tu que je l’ai dit à Anne ? »
« Pas encore, évidemment-»
« Je vais lui dire maintenant. »
« Et quoi, alors ? Ce que tu as dit à Juan ? »
« Qui sait quel rôle je vais jouer aujourd’hui ?» j’ai dit énigmatiquement.
J’ai ouvert la porte pendant que Philip a disparu aux ténèbres de la pièce voisine.
« Anne. Montrez-moi. »
Anne n’a pas du tout hésité à me donner la note de suicide.
Je lui ai mené dans le salon. C’était une interprétation maintenant. J’ai allumé la platine pour que la musique de Juan puisse m’accompagner avec l’air mystérieux.
Anne a deviné tout de suite.  « C’est l’enregistrement de Juan ? »
« Qui d’autre ? » J’ai dit du ton condescendant. « Et je sais ce que vous pensez. Que j’ai trahi Gérard parce que je ne le lui ai donné pas. Ma raison était simple. Je ne pouvais pas le laisser partir. Cela aurait signifié que j’avais oublié Juan. Ma connexion avec lui était si forte que je devais garder l’enregistrement. »
« C’était quoi, votre connexion ? Que l’aviez-vous tué ? » Anne a demandé.
« Les agents de la Falange l’a tué. »
« Ce n’était pas suicide ? Mais vous lui avez dit quelque chose. Quelque chose qui l’a affecté…»
« La même chose que je vais vous dire. Maintenant. Êtes-vous prête ? C’est une vérité de la  puissance incroyable. »
« Vous avez pour but de me détruire ? »
« Ca dépend. Voudriez-vous vous asseoir ? »
Comme si elle était dans un rêve, elle est tombée dans la chaise.

We’ll launch a new competition at the same time next year, and we look forward as always to the wildly creative contributions we receive.

French Film Competition (Now with added Spanish Flash Fiction Competition!)

gasoil

posted by Jenny Oliver and Jonathan Patterson

UPDATE: For details of the Oxford Spanish Department’s new ‘Flash Fiction’ competition, see below, after the French Film Competition.

The Department of French at Oxford University is looking for budding film enthusiasts in Years 7-11 and 12-13 to embrace the world of French cinema. To enter the competition, students in each age group are asked to re-write the ending of a film in no more than 1500 words.

You can work in English or French. No additional credit will be given for writing in French, but incorrect French grammatical expression will not be penalised: this is an exercise in creativity, rather than language!

The judges are looking for plausible yet imaginative new endings. There are no restrictions as to the form the entry might take: screen-play, play-script, prose, prose with illustrations. We’d also love to see filmed YouTube entries: feel free to experiment!

For 2017 we are inviting you to choose one film, either classic or contemporary, as per your age bracket:

Years 7-11:

Jean de Florette (1986, dir. Claude Berri) [PG]

OR

MicMacs à tire-larigot (2009, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet) [12A]
Years 12-13:

Paris nous appartient (1961, dir. Jacques Rivette)  [12]

OR

Microbe et Gasoil (2015, dir. Michel Gondry) [15]

 

To help you choose, here are the trailers.

For Jean de Florette:

For MicMacs:

For Microbe et Gasoil:

And, instead of a trailer, a scene from Paris nous appartient:

 

A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning student in each age group, with runner-up prizes of £25.

For further details about entering the competition (including the points in each film where we’d like you to take up the story), see the FAQs below. Each essay should be accompanied by a cover sheet.

Essays and cover sheets should be submitted by email to french.essay@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk by noon on 31st March 2017.

 

And now, a message from the Oxford Spanish department:

Spanish Flash Fiction Competition: NEW!!

Did you know that the shortest story in Spanish is only seven words long? Here it is: ‘Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí’ (Augusto Monterroso, “El dinosaurio”).

Write a story in Spanish of not more than 100 words, and send it to schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk by noon on Friday 31st March 2017 with your name, age and year group, and the name and address of your school.

A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning entry in each category (Years 7-11 and 12-13), with runner-up prizes of £25. The judges will be looking for creativity and imagination as well as good Spanish! The winning entries will be published on our website.

 

 

 

FAQS:

  1. What counts as ‘the ending’ of the film?

We’d like you to start your re-writing from the following points:

Paris nous appartient: from 1:52:55, when Philip asks Terry, ‘Pourquoi lui as-tu dit de venir?’

Jean de Florette: from 1:38:34, where Ugolin confronts Jean and says: ‘Monsieur Jean, il faut que je vous parle franchement…’

Micmacs from 1:16:44, when the message is relayed: ‘On lance!’, ‘On lance!,’ ‘On lance!’

Microbe et Gasoil from 1:29:23, when Microbe says ‘C’est possible de changer l’aller-retour contre deux allers, s’il vous plaît?’

  1. Does ‘re-writing’ mean I have to change everything?

There is nothing stopping you from watching the ‘real’ ending and then modifying it as you see fit. Indeed, you might find this helpful. Please note, though, that we’re looking for creative, entertaining and inventive new endings, which address as fully and plausibly as possible the strands of the story that are left unresolved at the end-points we’ve specified above.

  1. What form should the essay take?

There is no particular expectation as to how you submit your entry — you might like, for example, to submit it in screenplay format (with descriptions of camera angle, voice-over, lighting etc.), or as a play (with speech-prefixes and dialogue) or in prose, as in a novel. You might even like to submit your ‘new’ ending via YouTube or other social media! If so, email us the link with your attached coversheet. The form should be the one you feel shows your creativity in the best light.

  1. Where can I or my school/college get hold of the films?

The DVDs are readily and affordably available via Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.amazon.fr). 

  1. Is there a limit to the amount of entries any one school can make?

Yes. There is a limit of 15 entries per school per age group.

  1. Should I enter as an individual or can I enter as part of a group?

We would ask you to keep to individually-named submissions, please: this is just to ensure as much as possible parity and fairness between entries, and to avoid any distinction between smaller and larger groups.

 

Bookshelf Film Club: Persepolis

posted by Simon Kemp

Persepolis-Movie

France has a thriving culture of comic books and graphic novels, but there’s much more to it than the Tintin and Asterix books that are the best-known exports.

La Bande dessinée (or BD) is taken seriously over there, and it’s definitely not just for kids. Iranian-born Marjane Satrapi is the author of Persepolis, a graphic-novel memoir of a childhood shuttling between Iran and Europe, and the quite literal perils of being a rebellious teenager under Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

 

persepolis_srtip

Now a French citizen, in 2007 Satrapi teamed up with animator Vincent Paronnaud to produce a film version of the graphic novel, which won the jury prize in Cannes that year and was nominated for an Oscar.

It’s an extraordinary film, every frame hand-drawn, and often crisply beautiful or wittily surreal. (I like the sequence where Marjane catches her first European boyfriend cheating on her. The film quickly re-runs their relationship on-screen, only this time, the handsome, sophisticated young man we saw when Marjane was smitten has turned into a snaggle-toothed mummy’s-boy slob.)

Warning: some adult language in the clip below!

At the heart of this extraordinary film, though, is an entirely ordinary girl, who just wants the same as lots of people her age. She wants to listen to music, hang out with her friends, wear what she wants and study what she likes, meet boys, maybe fall in love. But whether she’s living under constant threat from the religious police in Iran, or as a lone foreigner in a cold, uncaring European city, living an ordinary life is a precarious activity, and you hold your breath as danger closes in on her.

The film’s available in the French original version with subtitles, or in a dubbed version featuring Sean Penn and other Hollywood voices. Naturally, get the original, if only to experience the full horror of Marjane’s enthusiastic off-key franglais rendition of the Rocky theme-song, Eye of the Tiger.

French Film Competition 2016!

Bande_de_filles_photo-Estelle-Hanania-©-Lilies-Filmsposted by Kate Rees

As in recent years, the Oxford University Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages is organising a French Film Competition, run with the help and generosity of Routes into Languages (South).

The competition has been a successful and entertaining way of getting young people interested in France and French culture, and has attracted hundreds of entries over the last few years. The challenge is to re-write the ending of a film in no more than 1500 words. It is open to all students of secondary-school age, from years 7-13. We’re also very keen to encourage filmed entries via Youtube submissions, so please feel free to re-imagine the endings of the chosen films in as creative a way as you can.

This year we have chosen two films directed by Céline Sciamma, an up and coming French director. Pupils in years 7-11 are invited to re-write the ending of Tomboy (2011), which sees a young girl moving to a new Parisian neighbourhood and exploring her own identity.

 

Those in years 12-13 are encouraged to look at Sciamma’s most recent film, Bande de filles (2014), which depicts the life of a group of young black girls coming of age in the suburbs of Paris. Raising issues of gender, race and class, this is also a film about friendship and conflict.

 

We very much enjoy judging the competition and are always impressed by the imagination and wit of the submissions. Entries should be submitted by email to french.essay@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk by noon on 31st March 2016.

A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning student in each category, with runner-up prizes of £25. For further details about entering the competition (including the points in each film where we’d like you to take up the story), please see the questions below, and go to http://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/film_comp to find the link to the cover sheet for your entry.

We’re looking forward to reading your work!

  1. What counts as ‘the ending’ of the film?

We’d like you to start your re-writing from the following points:
Tomboy: from 1:06:03, when Laure’s mother says “Lève-toi tu dois t’habiller”

Bande de filles: from 1:16:59, when Marieme/Vic says ‘J’ai un plan’ to her friends.

 

  1. Does ‘re-writing’ mean I have to change everything?

There is nothing stopping you from watching the ‘real’ ending and then modifying it as you see fit. Indeed, you might find this helpful. Please note, though, that we’re looking for creative, entertaining and inventive new endings, which address as fully and plausibly as possible the strands of the story that are left unresolved at the end-points we’ve specified above.

 

  1. What form should the essay take?

There is no particular expectation as to how you submit your entry – you might like, for example, to submit it in screenplay format (with descriptions of camera angle, voice-over, lighting etc.), or as a play (with speech-prefixes and dialogue) or in prose, as in a novel. You might even like to submit your ‘new’ ending via YouTube or other social media..! If so, email us the link with your attached coversheet. The form should be the one you feel shows your creativity in the best light.

 

  1. Where can I or my school/college get hold of the films?

The DVDs are readily and affordably available via Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.amazon.fr).

 

  1. Is there a limit to the amount of entries any one school can make?

Yes. There is a limit of 15 entries per school per age group.

 

  1. Should I enter as an individual or can I enter as part of a group?

We would ask you to keep to individually-named submissions, please: this is just to ensure as much as possible parity and fairness between entries, and to avoid any distinction between smaller and larger groups.

Bookshelf Film Club Halloween Special: Les Diaboliques

lesdiaboliques_poster

posted by Simon Kemp

This time last year we suggested a chilling little ghost story, Guy de Maupassant’s Le Horla, to curl up with for Halloween. This year, it’s the turn of the film club.

Les Diaboliques is a classic French chiller from 1955, based on a tale by the same French crime-writing duo who wrote Hitchcock’s Vertigo, another unsettling splice of the murder mystery and the ghost story. Apparently, Hitchcock missed out on getting the film rights to the story by a matter of hours, as the French director Henri-Georges Clouzot snapped them up as soon as they became available.

In the film, the frail Christina is the owner of a shabby French boarding school. Her brute of a husband is the headmaster, who is openly having an affair with another teacher at the school, Nicole. The two women are not enemies, however. Michel treats them both so badly that they end up forming a bond together, and that friendship leads to a plan to improve both their lives by getting rid of Michel for good…

Lured away far from the school, Michel is sedated by the two women and then drowned in a bath-tub. They then drive the body back to the school and dump it in the murky, leaf-covered swimming pool, with the intention of claiming an accident when the body finally bobs to the surface.

image

Then they wait.

No body surfaces.

The pool is drained.

No body is found.

It’s then that things get seriously strange.

One of the schoolboys says he’s seen Michel on the school grounds.

A school photo is taken, and a pale shape can be seen in the window behind the assembled children, a shape that looks like a face. Like Michel’s face.

Nicole and Christina start to think that the persistent questions of the police may be the least of their problems…

200_s

Les Diaboliques is a creepy classic that always features in lists of the best scary movies ever made. It’s ideal for a dark and lonely night around Halloween. Just make sure you avoid the American remake with Sharon Stone which is, ahem, diabolical.

One other thing — the film has one of the best and most famous final sequences in French movie history. Make sure you don’t accidentally find out what’s coming before you see it. And once you’ve seen it, please obey the command at the end of the film, and don’t spoil the ending for others:

tumblr_nuocilukYu1qeqrkzo1_500

Bookshelf Film Club: French TV with English Subtitles

Marie Dompnier as Sandra Winckler

posted by Simon Kemp

It wasn’t Scandi-noir that brought foreign-language drama to British TV and helped the Great British Public finally overcome their subtitle-phobia. When the BBC first showed the all-conquering Danish drama The Killing in 2011, they screened it in the Saturday evening BBC 4 slot that was already home to cult French police drama, Spiral, which was arguably the real ground-breaker in bringing foreign TV to UK audiences. Where they started, others followed, and now, along with five seasons of Spiral, there have been at least three other French dramas fitted up with English subtitles and broadcast over here.

What’s more, they’ve all been successful enough to get released as DVD and Blu-ray box-sets, as well as being available on various streaming services. If you can cope with French TV without subtitles, then there’s obviously masses of material out there to choose from. (The long-running sit-com,  Fais pas ci, fais pas ça, or the sweeping saga of German Occupation, Un village français, are two that are worth a look). But if English subtitles are what you need, then Spiral, BraquoThe Returned and Witnesses are here for your enjoyment.

The four series all tend to specialize in the gritty and/or terrifying. They’re all most definitely post-watershed, and not for the faint-hearted, as you can tell from the trailers below.

Spiral (the French title is Engrenages, which means cogs or gears, but also has the sense of being caught in a trap or a vicious circle) follows a single case through each season, as Laure Berthaud and her team hunt murderers, terrorists and organized criminals, while unscrupulous lawyers and judges play power games above their heads. The first five seasons are available on DVD, and Season Six is currently in production.

 

Braquo is another police drama with murky moral boundaries and some shocking violence. Four police officers will stop at nothing to clear the name of their colleague, hounded to suicide by false accusations. Three seasons of it were shown on Sky.

 

Probably the biggest TV phenomenon, though, was The Returned (Les Revenants), the supremely spooky supernatural drama shown by Channel 4 last year. In an isolated Alpine town, loved ones start returning to their families. They’re in good shape, ravenously hungry, and feeling more or less fine, if suffering from a bit of memory trouble. The only problem is, they’re  dead. Even the trailer is terrifying — watch it if you dare!

 

And most recently, there has been Witnesses (Les Témoins), another detective drama, but with more of the otherworldly creepiness of The Returned than the gritty urban feel of Spiral and Braquo. Someone is grave-robbing in the little Normandy town of Le Tréport,  and breaking into new-build show-homes to arrange the bodies in grisly parodies of family life. There’s also an escaped killer on the run from a nearby prison, and it all has something to do with the detective who caught him, whose photo is left at one of the show-homes. It was a hit on British TV last month, is due out on DVD in October.

We’ll talk about each of them in more detail in future posts. In the meantime, with French TV drama in something of a golden age, there’s no better time to get stuck in.

PS. And now there’s another one! Resistance, a TF1 drama about teenagers involved in the French Resistance during the Second World War Occupation by Nazi Germany, is currently showing on More 4, and available online here.

Bookshelf Film Club: Intouchables

 

posted by Simon Kemp

A Maserati is racing through the crowded streets of Paris at top speed, weaving through the traffic. A young black man is at the wheel, an older white man in the passenger seat is slumped against the window. A police car begins to give chase, and forces the sports car to stop. Driss, the driver, explains frantically that he is taking his disabled passenger to the emergency room. With one look at the gasping, groaning man beside him, the police realize that this is serious, and offer to accompany them to the hospital. Sirens wailing and lights flashing, the new convoy resumes the high-speed dash through the streets. Once the policemen have left them at the hospital door, the two men in the Maserati collapse in helpless laughter.

This is the opening to Intouchables (2011, released in the UK as Untouchable), France’s most successful film ever at the box office barring the all-conquering comedy, Bienvenue chez les Ch’tisIntouchables has a bit more substance to it than that film, and had a whole lot more international success, but will still leave you with a big smile on your face.

The film, based on a true story, follows Driss, an unemployed young man from the banlieue, who must apply for unskilled jobs in order not to lose his benefits. One such job is a post as live-in carer to a quadriplegic millionaire. Driss shows up at the Paris mansion of the paralysed Philippe, concerned only to get the form signed that proves to the benefits office that he showed up to the interview. Unexpectedly he lands the job, and moves into the mansion.

What follows is a steep learning curve for both men. An initially prickly relationship turns into a firm friendship based around a shared love of mischief. Philippe rediscovers a taste for life that he’s struggled to find since the accident that left him in the wheelchair, and Driss realizes the new possibilities that his own life now offers.

See it now, before the upcoming Hollywood remake starring Colin Firth ruins it all for everyone!

 

 

 

Jessica’s DANS LA MAISON

download

Our annual competition to rewrite the endings of French films in creative and unusual ways allows all kinds of entries. You can do it in English or in French, as a script or a story, or even as a youtube video. We’re always hugely impressed by the amount of talent and hard work that goes into these entries, and so, to celebrate that, here’s one of this year’s winning entries from the Years 12-13 category. It’s a new ending for Francois Ozon’s film, Dans la maison, written by Jessica Harlap Binks, who has taken the ambitious route of producing a fully-fledged shooting script for a new ending, written entirely in French. Here’s the whole thing:

Dans La Maison: An Alternative Ending

By

Jessica Harlap Binks

EXT. JOUR- DERRIÈRE DE LA MAISON

CLAUDE: Je suis venu vous chercher Esther.

Esther regarde Claude pour voir si ce qu’il dit est vrai. Elle le serre dans ses bras. Ils ne bougent pas pour un moment.

CLAUDE: Allons-y, vite.

ESTHER: Où irons nous?

CLAUDE: N’importe où. Je veux être avec vous, et seulement vous. Je vous aime.

ESTHER: Je t’aime aussi. Tu me manquais.

Ils s’embrassent, puis ils partent en courant, se tenant par la main.

INT. SOIR- LE SALON DE GERMAIN

Germain s’assied sur le canapé, un stylo et du papier dans les mains. Il se parle partiellement lui-même, et partiellement à Jeanne, qui prépare le dîner.

GERMAIN: Peut-être option D. Mais non, il n’y a aucune option qui marche bien de celles-ci. J’ai besoin d’une nouvelle option.

JEANNE: Arrête! Tu t’écoutes? C’est ridicule!

Elle range la table en colère. Germain s’assied à la table.

GERMAIN: Tu ne me comprends pas, Jeanne. Cette histoire a tant de potentiel.

Jeanne s’assied, désespérée.

JEANNE: Ce n’est pas ton histoire.

GERMAIN: Je sais, mais il veut que je la finisse.

LE PAPIER VIERGE EST VU SUR LE CANAPÉ.

INT. NUIT- LA CHAMBRE DE GERMAIN

Germain ne peut pas dormir. Il se lève, agité, et s’habille. Il prend ses clés, son manteau et son sac, dans lequel il place le papier vierge. Il sort de l’appartement, silencieusement.

INT. NUIT- LE COULOIR DE L’APPARTEMENT DE GERMAIN Germain trouve son portable et téléphone à Anouk.

GERMAIN: Anouk?

PAUSE.

Oui, c’est moi.

PAUSE.

Je sais, je sais. Mais Anouk?

PAUSE.

J’ai besoin de l’adresse d’une élève. PAUSE.

Je t’en prie. C’est la seule façon dont je peux… dont je peux l’aider.

PAUSE.

Oui. Rapha Artole.

PAUSE.

Germain écrit une adresse sur sa main, avec le sac sous le bras, et le portable entre l’oreille et l’épaule. Non, je ne le dirai à personne.

PAUSE.

Merci, Anouk. Dor bien, toi.

Germain finit le coup de téléphone.

 

INT. NUIT- LA CHAMBRE DE RAPHA

Claude est au lit. Le bruit de quelqu’un en bas et celui de la télé forte le réveille. Claude se lève, et commence à écrire au bureau avec une ferveur frustrée.

EXT. NUIT- DANS LA RUE

Germain cherche la maison avec l’adresse sur la main, et il découvre que c’est celle d’une petite maison miteuse. Il la vérifie, confus. Il supposait qu’il trouverait la maison de l’histoire. Il sonne, et attend. C’est Rapha Jr. qui ouvre la porte.

RAPHA: (trop épuisé pour être très surpris) Monsieur?

GERMAIN:

Est-ce que Claude est là?

RAPHA:

Claude? Qui est Claude?

GERMAIN: Hein? Claude, ton ami!

RAPHA: Dans nôtre classe?

GERMAIN: Oui…

RAPHA: Ah, non, je ne le connais pas très bien. Désolé.

GERMAIN: (sans le pouvoir de s’arrêter) Mais il vient ici presque tous les jours!

RAPHA: (nonchalant) Quoi? Je ne comprends pas. J’ai dit, je ne connais pas bien Claude.

GERMAIN: (confus et soudain anxieux) Merde! C’est vrai?

RAPHA: Mais oui! Il ne passe pas beaucoup de temps avec les autres élèves. Les seules fois que je l’ai vu avec quelqu’un, il était avec vous… a part ça, Il est toujours en train d’écrire.

Germain réalise qu’il y a quelque chose qui cloche. Il décide de le vérifier.

GERMAIN: Tes parents, comment s’appellent-ils?

Rapha voit que c’est un sujet sérieux, donc il ne questionne pas Germain. Il arrête d’essayer de comprendre ce qui se passe.

RAPHA: Pierre et Suzanne. Pourquoi?

GERMAIN: Rapha, as-tu une liste avec les adresses de tous les élèves dans la classe?

RAPHA: Peut-être, mais pourquoi?

GERMAIN: (qui ne veut pas expliquer) C’est une urgence. Trouve-la, vite!

RAPHA: Oui monsieur!

Il court à l’intérieur.

(en croyant que son rôle est très important) Je le ferai tout de suite!

Germain est seul, est il se frotte le visage avec les mains, confus et inquiet. Rapha retourne.

RAPHA: (fier) Voilà!

Germain saisit la liste, et la lit. Il n’écoute pas Rapha, parce qu’il cherche l’adresse de Claude. Je ne pouvais pas la trouver parce qu’il y avait un grand tas de papiers dans le bureau, donc j’ai passé longtemps à la chercher, avant de réaliser qu’elle était dans ma chambre. Désolé. Ça c’est tout, monsieur?

Germain trouve l’adresse et lève les yeux.

GERMAIN: (préoccupé) Oui. Merci, Rapha. Je suis désolé de ce qui s’est passé avec ton devoir. J’avais tort.

RAPHA: (acceptant les excuses avec un sourire) Bonsoir, Monsieur.

Rapha ferme la porte et Germain cour dans la rue, dans la direction de la maison de Claude.

INT. NUIT- LA CHAMBRE DE RAPHA

On entend la voix d’un homme qui crie en bas. Claude pleure pendant il écrit, et il s’essuie les yeux . Il écrit ’Option E’ en haut de la page.

EXT. NUIT- DANS LA RUE

Germain se parle à lui-même en courant. Il cherche la maison de Claude, à bout de souffle.

GERMAIN: Qu’est-ce qui se passe? Qu’est-ce qui se passe? Où est la maison? Pourquoi Claude a-t-il menti? Ce n’est pas bien. Pas bien du tout.

Il voit la rue dans laquelle la maison est située (selon la liste), et il y tourne.

MONTAGE DE SÉQUENCES AVEC COMMENTAIRE (Le rythme de cette scène augmente d’un bout à l’autre.)

CLAUDE CONTINUE À ÉCRIRE, VRAIMENT BOULEVERSÉ.

COMMENTAIRE CLAUDE: Option E. L’histoire est vrai. Il y avait un garçon dans une maison.

ON VOIT CLAUDE DANS ’LA MAISON’, OÙ IL MANGE DU PIZZA SUR LE CANAPÉ À LA PLACE DE RAPHA. ESTHER LUI FROTTE LES ÉPAULES DERRIÈRE LUI.

GERMAIN COURT DANS LA RUE.

Sa mère est tombée enceinte. Elle est partie.

ESTHER ET RAPHA SENIOR SE DISPUTENT PENDANT QU’ELLE FAIT UNE VALISE.

GERMAIN S’ARRETE POUR VERIFIER LE NUMÉRO DE LA MAISON. LE PAPIER DIT ’15’, ET IL EST EN FACE DE LA MAISON 1. Son mari est tombé malade. Il boit toutes les nuits.

LE PASSAGE DU TEMPS À TRAVERS LE MOIS MONTRE RAPHA SENIOR QUI DEVIENT DE PLUS EN PLUS FÂCHÉ ET COMMENCE À BOIRE AU SALON PENDANT QUE CLAUDE LE REGARDE.

GERMAIN SE DEPÊCHE APRÈS LA MAISON 2.

Le garçon tombe amoureux de son camarade de classe.

CLAUDE REGARDE RAPHA, QUI JOUE AU BASKET AVEC SES AMIS À L’ÉCOLE.

Il ne peut pas s’empêcher de penser constamment à lui.

LE PLAN DE RAPHA QUI S’EMBRASSE CLAUDE, SUIVI PAR L’IMAGE DE CLAUDE QUI A UN CAUCHEMAR AU LIT, COMME RAPHA AVAIT EU PLUS TÔT.

GERMAIN COURT APRES LES MAISONS 3, 4, 5.

Quand son prof lui donne le devoir d’écrire, il décide d’écrire une histoire.

UN PLAN DE GERMAIN, QUI ÉCRIT LE DEVOIR AU TABLEAU. L’histoire de sa vie. Mais il ne veut pas que ce soit son histoire.

CLAUDE S’ASSIED SUR LE BANC, OÙ IL COMMENCE À ÉCRIRE. Donc, elle devient l’histoire de son camarade de classe, la seule personne dans sa tête qu’il puisse supporter.

UNE IMAGE DE CLAUDE DANS ’LA MAISON’ AVEC RAPHA SUPÉRIEUR ET ESTHER DEVIENT UNE IMAGE DE RAPHA AVEC EUX.

GERMAIN CONTINUE APRÈS LES MAISONS 7, 8.

La maison est démolie. Ce n’est plus une famille normale. Il continue à écrire pendant des semaines- des mois.

UN MONTAGE DE PLUSIEURS JOURS, OÙ CLAUDE EST TOUJOURS EN TRAIN D’ÉCRIRE AU BUREAU DE SA CHAMBRE, AFFECTÉ.

GERMAIN COURT PLUS RAPIDEMENT APRÈS LES MAISONS 1O, 11, 12.

Il pense que peut-être, son prof pourra l’aider. Il peut le sauver de cette vie.

LA SÉQUENCE OÙ CLAUDE DONNE SON PREMIER DEVOIR À GERMAIN

EST RÉPÉTÉE, MAIS DU POINT DE VUE DE CLAUDE, POUR QU’ON PUISSE VOIR LE DÉSESPOIR DE CLAUDE, QUI VEUT L’AIDE DE SON PROF.

LA MAISON 13.

Mais non, le prof veut seulement l’histoire, pas la vérité.

LA SÉQUENCE OÙ CLAUDE DONNE LES QUATRES OPTIONS À GERMAIN EST RÉPÉTÉ, MAIS DU POINT DE VUE DE CLAUDE. APRÈS QUE GERMAIN EST PARTI, CLAUDE CONTINUE DE SE BATTRE, EN SE COGNANT LA TÊTE CONTRE LES MURS. IL SAIGNE ET PLEURE.

LA MAISON 14.

Esther ne se retourne pas.

LA SÉQUENCE DE CLAUDE ET ESTHER OÙ ILS S’ÉVADENT EST INVERSÉE, ALORS CLAUDE DEMEURE SEUL.

Elle ne trouve pas Claude, et ils ne s’évadent pas ensemble.

EXT. NUIT- DANS LA RUE

Germain arrive à la maison 15, haletant, et voit par la fenêtre que Claude s’est pendu. Il est dans la même salle de bain et dans la même position que Rapha était dans la scène plus tôt, ce qui suggère que quand il l’a écrite dans l’histoire, c’était un appel à l’aide.

COMMENTAIRE CLAUDE: Fin.

French Film Essay Competition 2015

 

bienvenue chez les ch'tis_2(1)

posted by Will McKenzie and Kate Rees

A feast of narrative imagination and directorial invention!The University of Oxford’s fourth French film essay competition was once more opened up to younger students (from year 7 onwards) and offered entrants the chance to write, direct and submit their own mini-film. An amazing total of 178 entries were received, from almost 50 schools.

The judges were deeply impressed by the range and richness of responses to the four set films: Le Petit Nicolas and Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (years 7-11) and Dans la maison and De Rouille et d’os (years 12-13)Entrants re-wrote the closing chapter, picking up narrative threads left hanging by each film’s ambiguous ending. So rich were the responses that, in addition to the winner and runner-up in each category, a selection of further entries were offered special and higher commendations. The winners in each age group were Joe Beadle (Years 7-11) and Jessica Binks (Years 12-13). The winners in the new ‘Film’ category were Class 7H of Bartholomew School. Further details are available at:

http://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/film_comp_2015_results .

Below are brief reports from the judges about the entries for each film.

Le Petit Nicolas

Rewritings (and filmed versions) of the end of Petit Nicolas offered a rich tonal and emotional range, from the gentle and tender – where the united family lives happily ever after – to the sudden and shocking – where the jealous Nicolas takes sibling rivalry to its murderous limit. The strongest entries gave emotional depth and richness to each of the wide cast of characters, including Nicolas’s friends and family, while retaining the rapid, quick-witted patter of the original. The judges were impressed throughout by the close attention entrants gave to all these aspects of the film, and by the sheer energy and enthusiasm invested in all the entries.

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis

There was a pleasingly large number of responses to this very successful French movie. The vanished wife gave entrants scope to take the film in all kinds of unexpected directions; an opportunity they eagerly seized. Some movingly melancholic, even tragic, entries impressed the judges enormously in their emotional maturity. Others retained the sweetly joyous tone of the original. Scottish entries often made wittily knowing allusions to the “North” of the Ch’tis as wet, cold but ultimately welcoming. While entrants’ level of French was not taken into account when deciding the winners, the judges often noted in passing an encouragingly good grasp of the language.

 Dans la maison

Our older entrants responded very well to this film, which deals expressly with the problem of writing the ending of a story. There were twists and turns as inventive as those of the film itself, and some sensitive responses to the original film’s cold, tense tone and analysis of status anxiety, snobbism and sexual jealousy. There were some gripping retellings in English and in French, strengthened by subtle, incisive description, good narrative pacing and intelligent plotting, where just enough information was released at just the right time to keep the reader guessing.
De rouille et d’os

While relatively few entrants wrote on this film, the entries we did receive were extremely accomplished. Entries here were characterized by their tendency to formal experimentation: there were more rewritings in verse for this film than the others, in English and in French. The judges were impressed especially by entrants’ ability to express themselves well given the constraints of versification, often awarding Special Commendations in recognition of this.

Another competition is planned for next year. We hope you’ll consider entering.