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Directed by Laurent Cantet, and based on a semi-autobiographical novel by François Bégaudeau, The Class (Entre les murs, which translates as "Between the Walls") tells the story of François Martin, a teacher in a rowdy, inner-city middle school in Paris, which represents a microcosm of the conflicting cultures and attitudes in contemporary France. François Bégaudeau stars in the role of the teacher. Cantet filmed The Class ( in a faux documentary style, using multiple improvised shots of real students and real teachers in a multi-ethnic French class in the 20th arrondissment of Paris. Shot almost entirely in a single classroom, much of the film chronicles François' verbal confrontations with his French, African, Caribbean, Moroccan, Turkish, and Asian students. While he may not be a perfect teacher, François is highly effective in his pedagogic methods, much like Sidney Poitier's Mark Thackeray character in To Sir, With Love. (The films have much in common.) In one pivotal scene, he uses the word "pétasse" to describe two of his street-savvy female students (which translates as "skank"), which prompts a classmate, Soulaymane (Franck Keita), to defend them at the risk of being expelled and sent back to Mali. In another pivotal scene, one student tells François at the end of the school year that she has learned nothing and has understood nothing in his class. The Class is a not only a brilliant film, it is a perfect example of why French cinema surpasses nearly everything being produced in Hollywood these days. It plays out as a thought-provoking metaphor of the diverse ethnic mix of 21st-century Paris. Highly recommended.

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BRCO30038 Class Blu Ray DVD (2008/Laurent Cantet) $39.95 $35.99