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From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.
183

Pretend you're a French language teacher looking for films for a young teen audience
Topic by: lakemaiden
Posted: September 10, 2008 - 8:21 AM PDT
Last Reply: September 14, 2008 - 6:30 AM PDT

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author topic: Pretend you're a French language teacher looking for films for a young teen audience
lakemaiden
post #1  on September 10, 2008 - 8:21 AM PDT  
Can you suggest french films that delve into topics that are relevant to french culture and/or history, that can be listened to in french? It'd be nice if they were rated pg-13 or less but I know films that are nasty sometimes slide through the ratings system while worthwhile and well meaning films end up getting hit with a harder rating than is really called for. Its all about context. Is the violence romanticized or is it making a point, is the nudity necessary or exploitative. If there are negative views expressed by the characters, what is the attitude of the film, and what impression are you left with at the end of it all?

If we're looking at films that might be on the borderline, I'd appreciate a heads up on what the issues might be that push it towards the border, so we can have an appropriate discussion beforehand.
underdog
post #2  on September 10, 2008 - 11:42 AM PDT  
I forwarded this to a couple of people, including my sister who used to teach French as well (and is still a HS teacher). Will let you know if they have some good suggestions!

I just thought of a couple off the top of my head -- not sure if these are what you're looking for exactly, and the latter film may be too dark for your class? but Louis Malle's Au Revoir Les Enfants and Lacombe Lucien are both terrific films about WWII and France from the perspective of teenage boys. Excellent, provocative stuff, in French.

I can't imagine kids not still relating to The 400 Blows, either. French New Wave, coming of age, a lot of French cultural/economic issues from that period.


And there's always Children of Paradise, too.

kaream
post #3  on September 10, 2008 - 3:05 PM PDT  
> On September 10, 2008 - 11:42 AM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I just thought of a couple off the top of my head -- not sure if these are what you're looking for exactly, and the latter film may be too dark for your class? but Louis Malle's Au Revoir Les Enfants and Lacombe Lucien are both terrific films about WWII and France from the perspective of teenage boys. Excellent, provocative stuff, in French.
>
> I can't imagine kids not still relating to The 400 Blows, either. French New Wave, coming of age, a lot of French cultural/economic issues from that period.
>
>
> And there's always Children of Paradise, too.
> ---------------------------------

Claude Berri: The Two of Us, about a young French Jewish boy sent from Paris to spend the war years with Petain-sympathizing relatives on a farm; he has to hide his Jewishness and pretend to be Catholic. A wonderful warm-hearted movie. Also from Berri: Jean de Florette, and Manon of the Spring, a 2-film series. A brief shot of Manon dancing nude by herself, but both are fine for youngsters.

Robert Bresson: A Man Escaped; Pickpocket; Au Hazard Balthazard; Mouchette.

Marcel Carne: in addition to underdog's suggestion of Les Enfants du Paradis, there's Port of Shadows.

Claude Chabrol: The Eye of Vichy is a documentary about Vichy propaganda during the war; I'm not sure I would recommend his many other movies for this age group.

Henri-Georges Clouzot: The Wages of Fear; and Diabolique -- both terrific movies.

Jean Cocteau: La Belle et la Bete (Beauty and the Beast).

Jacques Demy: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg -- Catherine Deneuve's first major film; the whole movie is sung; a fascinating experiment and a lovely film.

Georges Franju: Eyes Without a Face -- what passed for horror back in 1960, now just right for young teens.

Louis Malle: other than the two titles suggested by underdog, most of his movies will not be appropriate.

Jean-Pierre Melville: Bob le Flambeur; Le Samourai; Army of Shadows; Le Cercle Rouge; Un Flic.

Marcel Ophuls: The Sorrow and the Pity, if you're interested in the war in France.

Jean-Paul Rappeneau: Cyrano de Bergerac.

Jean Renoir: many movies, but probably Boudu Saved From Drowning, and The Golden Coach for this age audience.

Alain Resnais: Night and Fog is a short documentary about Dachau.

Eric Rohmer: again, many movies, some of more interest than others. I think I'd mostly recommend The Lady and the Duke.

Francois Truffaut: literally gobs of movies. In addition to The 400 Blows, another one you should definitely try is Small Change, about schoolboys. One brief segment of a couple of boys spying on a young woman washing her arms and breasts, but nothing worse than that.

kaream
post #4  on September 10, 2008 - 3:08 PM PDT  
I forgot Rene Clement's Forbidden Games: about a boy and a little girl trying to understand and cope with the stresses of wartime.
kaream
post #5  on September 10, 2008 - 3:18 PM PDT  
Oh, and an absolute do-not-miss: To Be and to Have (Etre et Avoir), an utterly marvelous documentary by Nicolas Philibert about a tiny one-room school in rural central France, with kindergarten through 5th grade all learning together. One of my all-time favorites. Be sure to also watch the extras.
kaream
post #6  on September 10, 2008 - 3:23 PM PDT  
> On September 10, 2008 - 3:05 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Robert Bresson: A Man Escaped; Pickpocket; Au Hazard Balthazard; Mouchette.
> ---------------------------------

Misspelled that -- it's Au Hazard Balthazar.
kaream
post #7  on September 10, 2008 - 3:45 PM PDT  
> On September 10, 2008 - 3:23 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On September 10, 2008 - 3:05 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > Robert Bresson: A Man Escaped; Pickpocket; Au Hazard Balthazard; Mouchette.
> > ---------------------------------
>
> Misspelled that -- it's Au Hazard Balthazar.
> ---------------------------------

Anyway, maybe you'd better scratch Mouchette; and there is nudity in Hazard Balthazar I'd forgotten. The other two should be fine.

But add Julien Duvivier's Pepe le Moko (takes place in Algiers).
kaream
post #8  on September 10, 2008 - 3:49 PM PDT  
In any case you should probably run each of these suggested titles through a quick search here or at IMDb or Amazon, to first get a quick overview of the subject matter.
kaream
post #9  on September 10, 2008 - 9:21 PM PDT  
The best Les Miserables, in French, is Raymond Bernard's 1934 version (on 2 discs); don't confuse this with the 1935 Hollywood version. Bernard's Wooden Crosses is about WWI.

If you have any interest in Arthurian tales, you could try Eric Rohmer's Perceval. Be sure to check this one out yourself first before springing it on a class of kids. It isn't a 'movie' at all, in any recognizable sense; instead it's a highly stylized enactment of Chretien de Troyes. My French isn't good enough to distinguish whether it's spoken in modern or medieval French.

You could also try Robert Bresson's Lancelot du Lac, which is much more accessible but might still be something of a head-scratcher for kids. This one does have some nudity.

Oh -- everyone would enjoy The Triplets of Belleville, a very different animated film made by Sylvain Chomet, about a Tour de France competitor. It includes a short scene with a topless Josephine Baker.

An excellent noir thriller is Rififi, a much-copied movie by Jules Dassin (who is actually an American).

There's very little Francois Ozon you could show to kids without getting arrested, but 8 Women is cute and would be fine.

Jacques Rivette's two-part Joan the Maid is interesting and good, but I think there's something about the editing that may be distancing for young teens.

Classe Tous Risques by Claude Sautet is a good gangster movie.

The Return of Martin Guerre, by Daniel Vigne, is set in medieval France.

If you've never seen Jean Vigo's L'Atalante, do. I'm not sure how well kids might take to this, though.

Then you might also want to try them on Ravel's operetta/ ballet L'Enfant et les Sortileges, or Bizet's Carmen. The Carmen I prefer is the 1984 Maazel with Migenes and Domingo.

kaream
post #10  on September 10, 2008 - 9:29 PM PDT  
Resnais' Night and Fog is very explicit about Nazi death camps, and might well be too gruesome.
kaream
post #11  on September 10, 2008 - 9:57 PM PDT  
> On September 10, 2008 - 9:21 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> There's very little Francois Ozon you could show to kids without getting arrested, but 8 Women is cute and would be fine.
> ---------------------------------

Well, maybe you should assume that anything made after 1959 ought to be previewed by you. No nudity in this, but lots of talk about incest and lesbianism, and a comic scene of groping on the floor.
hamano
post #12  on September 11, 2008 - 9:20 AM PDT  
If you don't totally want to put them to sleep show La Femme Nikita.

Ooh, I love Perceval... I own that one. But it's probably a bit too weird for young teens, non?

For Halloween maybe show them Diabolique and give them a good scare. Or Les Yeux Sans Visage.

Lots of AMERICAN kid-friendly films have French (and Spansh) dubs on the DVDs for Canadian (and Mexican) audiences, in addition to the regular English track. I think it's probably true of most Disney films, Like Mulan. Once I watched Mulan in Spanish with French subtitles. Even the songs were translated.

underdog
post #13  on September 11, 2008 - 9:32 AM PDT  
> On September 11, 2008 - 9:20 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
>
> Lots of AMERICAN kid-friendly films have French (and Spansh) dubs on the DVDs for Canadian (and Mexican) audiences, in addition to the regular English track. I think it's probably true of most Disney films, Like Mulan. Once I watched Mulan in Spanish with French subtitles. Even the songs were translated.
>
>
> ---------------------------------

That's good if you're just trying to learn French language, but it sounds like lake is trying to teach her students about French culture and history as well. In which case I think a lot of Kaream's suggestions are bon coup.

kaream
post #14  on September 11, 2008 - 1:28 PM PDT  
> On September 11, 2008 - 9:20 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Ooh, I love Perceval... I own that one. But it's probably a bit too weird for young teens, non?
> ---------------------------------

I think if it's properly introduced so the kids will know what to expect, they might actually enjoy it despite themselves. But you can't just drop it on them w/o any warning or explanation.
hamano
post #15  on September 11, 2008 - 7:02 PM PDT  
> On September 11, 2008 - 9:32 AM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> That's good if you're just trying to learn French language, but it sounds like lake is trying to teach her students about French culture and history as well. In which case I think a lot of Kaream's suggestions are bon coup.

Oh, yeah, good point... How about watching the French dub of Ratatouille? I wonder if you can get the Pink Panther films dubbed in French?
kaream
post #16  on September 11, 2008 - 9:32 PM PDT  
> On September 11, 2008 - 7:02 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Oh, yeah, good point... How about watching the French dub of Ratatouille? I wonder if you can get the Pink Panther films dubbed in French?
> ---------------------------------

Not in this country, on R1 NTSC. All I found at Amazon.com (US) was an Italian dub of the original Pink Panther. Surprisingly, not for Ratatouille, either -- I was thinking most of those came with both Spanish and French dubs.
hamano
post #17  on September 11, 2008 - 10:26 PM PDT  
> On September 11, 2008 - 9:32 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> on R1 NTSC.

Ratatouille, oui. Mais Pink Panther, non.
kaream
post #18  on September 11, 2008 - 10:52 PM PDT  
> On September 10, 2008 - 3:45 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
Julien Duvivier's Pepe le Moko (takes place in Algiers).
> ---------------------------------

French-administered Algiers, of course, in the 1930s -- about the Casbah.

But for French history in Africa, Pontecorvos's The Battle of Algiers would be terrific.

I've never seen Rene Clement's Is Paris Burning?, but I understand that it isn't too great of a movie, and that also the DVD is more dubbed into English than not. Might be worth checking out, though.

If it were available, Truffaut's The Last Metro would definitely fit in here, but alas it's out of print.

I'm trying to think of movies that deal with more recent French history or culture, but they tend to be either radically sexy (like Bertolucci's The Dreamers) or way over younger kids' heads, like most of Godard, Rohmer or Truffaut, or both. Godard's La Chinoise, about 60s fascination with Mao, would sure shake them up. A better bet for this era would be Jacques Richard's documentary about the role of Nouvelle Vague filmmakers in the 60s and the revolution of 1968, entitled 'Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinemateque'.

French thrillers, policiers, action movies, etc, are different from their American counterparts, but the differences may be too subtle for kids to pick up.

Then there are a lot of movies specifically dealing with the war (or WWI) but not from a teen point of view.

I don't know whether Joan or Arthurian stories might fit into what's wanted, or 'culture' in the sense of Ravel or Bizet; or literature such as Cyrano or Les Miserables.

Overall I think I would start with Forbidden Games, The Two of Us, To Be and To Have, Small Change, and The 400 Blows, as all having to do with youngsters in French cultural situations, WWII to present.
kaream
post #19  on September 11, 2008 - 10:56 PM PDT  
> On September 11, 2008 - 10:26 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On September 11, 2008 - 9:32 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > on R1 NTSC.
>
> Ratatouille, oui.
> ---------------------------------

Bon. But what a bitch that you'd have to buy a whole separate DVD instead of the standard one coming with French and Spanish dubs already on it.
kaream
post #20  on September 12, 2008 - 12:44 AM PDT  
> On September 11, 2008 - 10:56 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> ...instead of the standard one coming with French and Spanish dubs already on it.
> ---------------------------------

You should check out the dubbing of Eddie Murphy in Shrek.   :-)   I wouldn't have thought it possible.
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