Friday, July 01, 2005

Les Choristes

My family will soon host a French student for three weeks, who wrote in her profile that she enjoys “cinema.” Moi aussi! I find nothing as pleasurable as watching a good film where all the actors speak French and I read subtitles. Bonnie knows my film tastes and brought home Les Choristes, also known in the US as The Chorus.

Like many French films, Les Choristes is narrated by someone remembering events from the past. The twist in this case is that the narrator, a successful symphony conductor, is actually reading a journal written by another character, a prefect who taught in a prison-like boarding school for boys in 1949. The principal and the boys are essentially at war when the prefect arrives. The principal’s main tactic to counter disobedience is locking boys in isolation cells. “Action, reaction,” the cruel man often says. The prefect senses that the boys are miscast as delinquents, and when he hears them singing naughty songs, he starts a chorus.

At the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago last week, I attended a program titled Film Programs for Adults: Kicking It Up a Notch, at which Brian Newman, who was director of the Atlanta Film Festival, urged libraries to show films that the public does not see at the local multiplex. Foreign films are especially good for library film series, he said. Les Choristes is just what he had in mind.

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