Release date: 02.09.2004
Rental: Constantin Film AG
director: Christophe Barratier
Script: Christophe Barratier, Philippe Lopes-Curval
Actors / actresses: Gérard Jugnot, François Berléand, Kad Merad, Marie Bunel, Jean-Baptiste Maunier u. a.
Production: Arthur Cohn, Jacques Perrin
Camera: Carlo Varini
Running time: 97 min
Rated: from 6 years.
FBW predicate: particularly valuable
It is the year 1949, somewhere in rural France, in a boarding school called Fond-de-l´Étang. Here there is discipline and order, a childlike laugh is like breaking the rules. In the small, hermetically sealed world of the boarding school, there is nothing beautiful for the boys, who are considered to be difficult to educate, no joys, no prospect of a possibly different, better life. Headmistress Rachin strictly watches over his elves, knows no pardon, goes against anything with crude punishments "offense" in front. There is nothing to be felt with him about compliance, understanding and responsibility towards his students. His behavior looks cold, his kind is unloving, a tyrant who rules over the boys in this place far from the world. His pedagogical principle is based solely on "Action and reaction", Offense and subsequent punishment.
The day that Clément Mathieu crosses the boarding school threshold will change the lives of the boys. Mathieu is a music teacher, unemployed, a short, stocky man, an outsider himself everyone the boy and his heart is in the right place. The boys feel this immediately, but for a while try to play with it, to use it, to gain advantages. First they set boundaries, then it’s his turn – and he has the staying power. With stoic composure he endures the bad pranks and teasing of the boys, which soon open up more and more to him. Mathieu found his way to them through music – he founded a choir.
Alliances and adversaries
Late in the evening Mathieu composes his own pieces, which he tries out with his students the next day. The mood among the boys improves noticeably, that common Singing spurs them on. A new solidarity arises that becomes loneliness and abandonment of the individual through the new musical association canceled. Monsignor Mathieu particularly attracts the lanky blond boy Pierre with his unusual voice. Meanwhile, Rachin grinds her teeth and grudges at the changed school climate. When one day the newcomer Mondain caused unrest and aggressiveness, someone set a fire in the boarding school and Mathieu and his budding choir walked illegally in the countryside, the situation in Fond-de-l´Étang deteriorated dramatically.
Liberation through music
"Fond-de-l’Étang" Significantly means something like "At the bottom of the pool". You don’t have to see this word meaning so allegorically in order to understand the lifestyle of these boarding school boys. It is unfree, internally and internally trapped young people who are blocked from a free path of life. Here oppression and rejection dominate. For the French director, screenwriter and composer Christophe Barratier, the focus of his screen debut is how the students get out of this awkward situation with the help of music.
The turn to the good .
Monsieur Mathieu’s children is an ambivalent film. He clearly traces the gradual inner change of a class and its members through the help of music. The boys settle their hostilities and a previously unknown solidarity welds the boys together. They inspire each other to practice even more and to learn to sing even better. It also becomes clear how Monsieur Mathieu’s incentive gradually spreads to the young and ultimately develops entirely out of them. Pierre, for example, reappraises the relationship with his mother, who rarely visits him, and at some point also recognizes his musicality himself. And the film makes Mathieu appear stronger, even though he is defeated externally by boarding school director Rachin.
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