Music Literature Film Index About

The Class, Directed by Laurent Cantet

Entre les murs, Haut et Court, September 24, 2008 (France)

Screenplay: Laurent Cantet, Robin Campillo, and François Bégaudeau based on the novel by François Bégaudeau

Starring: François Bégaudeau, Esmeralda Ouetani, Rachel Regulier, and Franck Keita

Rows of empty desks freeze in the heat of summer, and blackboards hibernate inside darkened classroom hollows. Schools settle dormant for the year. Meanwhile, youngsters escape from the cramped wooden backs of junior-sized chairs and splintered chalk sticks, as they splash in open-air swimming pools, cycle through grassy parks and bask under the freedoms of vacation. For an uninterrupted span of three short months, systemized education takes a break.

Times to cherish, for sure, entwined with an adolescent belief that teachers do not understand and exist only to obstruct the pathway toward maturation. Greater truths yield yet another lesson learned.

Textbooks and exams must contribute a distraction from such surreptitious wisdom, which measures across calendar days when movement from room to room … place to place … is punctuated by ringing bells refracted off drab cinder block walls. So transpire those drawn-out periods of discipline, as math crams with literature, history and science in a mass of knowledge lugged home inside zippered backpacks. Heaving facts, figures, paradigms, cosines and theorems burden fledgling minds. Fly, baby, fly!

At the start, a syllabus lays a blueprint for the curriculum ahead. Flesh and blood less conveniently sets forth. Assemble any random group of kids from divergent backgrounds and unpredictability shall bully the sternest authority. Resulting clashes extend beyond dismissal.

Summer break is no respite. Composing a self-portrait—the character of the pupil in detail—lingers an ongoing assignment. Final evaluations occur once the mind comes to terminal rest. The overarching test all the while is to engage, avoiding early silence, regardless of perceived social order.

Study hard. The student, young or old, unencumbered by limiting definition is a marvelous creature to behold.