To Be and to Have (Être et Avoir) (2002)

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Released 5-Jan-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Crew-Nicholas Philibert (Director)
Filmographies-Crew-Nicholas Philibert (Director)
Theatrical Trailer-2
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Love's Brother
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 99:59
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:31) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Nicolas Philibert
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Alizé
Axel
Guillaume
Jessie
Johann
JoJo
Julien
Laura
Létitia
Georges Lopez
Nathalie
Olivier
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Philippe Hersant


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Pastoral : pas·to·ral
     (According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
     Pronunciation: 'pas-t(&-)r&l
     Function: adjective
     Etymology: Middle English, from Latin pastoralis, from pastor herdsman

      1 a (1) : of, relating to, or composed of shepherds or herdsmen
      (2) : devoted to or based on livestock raising
      b : of or relating to the countryside : not urban
      c : portraying or expressive of the life of shepherds or country people especially in an idealised and conventionalised manner
      d : pleasingly peaceful and innocent : IDYLLIC
      2 a : of or relating to spiritual care or guidance especially of a congregation
      b : of or relating to the pastor of a church

     Extract the reference to a church, and then all of these definitions completely describe To Be and To Have (Être et Avoir) - the quiet little French film that took the world by storm. Essentially, it is an examination (no pun intended) of a small rural school in regional Auvergne, France. Msr Georges Lopez is a teacher of a small regional school in cattle and wheat country. His charges range from the infants (and Oh! how infant they are!) to middle school candidates, in a teensy weensy but rather bucolically beautiful school house. "Le Maître" balances his days on a knife's edge of dealing with littlies and their burgeoning personalities and pre-teens with their own burgeonic issues! This he does with an absorbed, focused and phlegmatic grace and presence that transports us as viewers to a slower and kinder place.

     We meet not only the engaging babies like the incomparable JoJo who can turn washing his hands into an engaging art form, to Létitia, who has made distraction her coup de grâce: but also the eminently capable, but oft scholastically challenged middle school lads, who are more deft at a tractor than the conjugation of a verb, or the twists and malevolent turns of a number. (One of the funniest moments of the film is when the middle school pretenders attack their homework, with the dubious "assistance" of their families.)

     This film has so much to say about so many things. And yet, it takes its perfect time to say them all. It feels refreshingly without an agenda. Instead, it seems to offer threads that we ourselves should examine further. There are threads like the contrast between capability and scholastic achievement; the balance of education against life experience as a gauge of maturity: the intense need for a mentor to elevate our aspirations; and the big bugaboo - how many children are getting the benefit of patient, interested mentoring like the protagonist of this film offers? Msr Lopez' quiet probing of both Olivier and Julien about their relative strengths in the playground was utterly compelling to me as expositions of these ideas.

      I am a professional adult educator. So to watch this was a revelation. It has borne out my long held belief that none of us are "grown-ups" - we're just "grown-outs". As I watched this, I was beguiled by how powerful love, truth, expectation, engagement and hope really can be. And how much we all still need an inspirator! The phrase, "People don't care how much you know, till they know how much you care," kept resounding to me.

      The word "education" comes from the Latin "educere" which means to draw out - so - to educate is to draw intelligence out. This is Msr Lopez' particular skill. Whilst he undergoes his umpteenth dictation session with his older charges, he allows the conversation to drift to his imminent retirement, candidly answering his students' questions. As their discussion runs its course, he has further educated his pupils on the nature of change and how to accept it. There are many of these poignant moments in the film. In the interview presented in the extras on this disc, filmmaker Nicholas Philibert comments on the number of teachers who have made remarks about how old-fashioned Lopez' teaching style is. And it is true that this is a pencil and crayon class, with much learning by rote. But what underpins that is his complete and utter availability to his students. He is 100% present and fully engaged with them at all times. And they are emotionally enriched by his presence.

      In his discussion about the film, Philibert talks about his intentions for the presentation. That he didn't want to overly interfere with the action taking place in the class room. And in this he is entirely successful. Whilst the children are aware of the cameras, it seems as if they've simply absorbed them into their school lives, so this portrait feels entirely real and unaffected.

      Even the title of this film is wonderfully appropriate. Not only does it reference the interminable recitation that is required when learning a language, but it also speaks clearly of the quality of the relationship between this teacher and his students. He teaches them what they have, and he does this by completely being with them. It is total commitment. And it is wonderful to behold.

      This is an exquisite film that truly deserves the attention it has drawn. It is slow paced and devoid of much didactic structure. It simply wends and wafts like a warm summer breeze, gathering up tiny details as it goes. By its conclusion we have imperceptibly come to know and truly care about the characters to whom we have been introduced. It is a gratifying experience to see this film and one that I hope you can enjoy soon.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 16x9 enhanced, which is its correct theatrical proportion.

     This is a glorious transfer with excellent sharpness levels and low grain levels. There is no evidence of low level noise and the definition is excellent. Contrast levels are very good and it is crisp and clean without feeling clinical or overproduced.

     The colours are subtle and generally glorious. The photography is magnificent and it has been treated well in the transfer.

     This presentation is largely artefact free with no disturbing defects to distract you from the story.

     This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change at 70:31, but I barely even noticed it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The soundtrack is delivered in French Dolby Digital 2.0.

      The dialogue is lovely and crisp and there are no audio sync problems in evidence. The subtitles are excellent - clean, clear, easy to read and accurate.

     IMDB informs me that the original music is by Philippe Hersant, but he must have had a pretty brief job description for this film as there is virtually no music whatsoever, which, in this case, rather adds to its charm. There are no directive clues provided by a score - we come to our own emotional conclusions by what we see on the screen. That being said, the music that is there is utterly charming.

     The use of surround and subwoofer is minimal, but this is not inappropriate in this dialogue driven film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu is static with theme music.

Interview - Nicholas Philibert (Director) (14:33)

     A very interesting and informative discussion with the director. I would have liked to know more about how he found that particular school, and perhaps some more follow up information about the protagonists, but it is interesting to hear his philosophies on documentary filmmaking.

Filmography - Nicholas Philibert (Director)

     3 page listings of his directorial and acting career.

Trailers

     Original theatrical trailer, plus the American trailer for the film, plus one other trailer for Love's Brother.

Photo Gallery

     6 images, all from the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

      The R1 version appears to be lacking the goodies that the R4 provides so just for once, we're on a winner! The R2 French version offers even more delicacies, like a 15 minute featurette and deleted scenes, but there are no subtitles and it's all in French, so only go there if you feel linguistically up to the challenge!

Summary

     Magnificently photographed, deeply noble in its content and warmly human in its treatment, this is a charming and restorative treat. Thankfully, the transfer equals the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Friday, September 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Five stars for Extras?!? - Joe REPLY POSTED