Les Choristes (The Chorus)

I enjoy watching foreign films, subtitles have never bothered me and there is so much out there in the world of film that it’s would be a pity to ignore it simply because I must read subtitles! As a Canadian, learning French was expected up until grade ten. I continued with French until first year University. In grade twelve we were asked to watch Les Choristes sans subtitles and write what we could understand about the plot.

I absolutely fell in love with the movie.

If you saw our Giddy Goat list of re-watchable movies… my contributions were a lot of feel good movies. Besides the feel good rom-coms, I am a sucker for feel good uplifting movies. Especially ones that have that “real life” feel to them or based of a true story.

f103df0f-c74b-4956-b8f9-8de3f0204732Les Choristes is a German-Swiss-French drama film directed by Christophe Barratier. It is an adaptation of the 1945 film A Cage of Nightingales (La Cage aux rossignols), which was adapted from a novel.

The plot centers around Pierre Morhange (played by Jacques Perrin (older) and Jean-Baptiste Maunier (younger)) who had been a widely successful conductor of an orchestra. When his mother passes away he returns to France and he reminisces about his childhood inspirations. His former classmate Pépinot comes to visit him and presents him with a diary from their old music teacher Clément Mathieu (played by Gérard Jugnot). The movie then goes back in time to relive Pierre and Pépinot’s memories of their music teacher.  In 1949, we meet the young Pierre who is badly behaved and his single mother Violette can’t handle him. Pierre is sent to a boarding institution for “difficult” boys.

Fond de L’Étang (which translates to “Bottom of the Pond”) is looked after by a very strict headmaster Monsieur Rachin. When the new teacher Mathieu comes to the school he begins to assemble a choir with the boys. Leading to the discover of Pierre’s musical talents and a transformation in the children.

I won’t spoil the ending of the movie! It is both happy and sad, you’ll have to watch it yourself to find out what happens but with a strict headmaster – things don’t always work out for Mathieu and his choir of boys! Also, Pépinot is the cutest little boy who refuses to believe his parents are dead. Aw!

Besides the emotion and feel-good plot of this drama the music is to die for. Les Choristes was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Song (“Vois sur ton chemin”, listed as “Look to Your Path”).

Here is a clip from the movie featuring the song:

This isn’t the only good song in it! I’ve two others that are top favorites of mine. The first being La Nuit (The Night), again here is a version from the film. Here you see Pierre off to the side, not with the choir. He is invited to join mid-way through by Mathieu.

And my other favorite song is “Caresse Sur L’Océan” (translated to: Caress the Ocean). Jean-Baptiste Maunier who plays Pierre, has such a beautiful voice, but the whole choir sounds wonderful together.

It’s a lovely movie that I would certainly recommend to anyone who is interested in foreign films or doesn’t mind watching movies in another language! If you have a favorite foreign film or a good one to recommend, let me know I’d love to check it out!

Until next time,


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