The Class

I always enjoy watching those movies about the interaction between teachers and students, especially in a high school. So when I rented “The Class”, I had assumed that it would be like “The Freedom Writers”, but it’s different from the other movies I had seen before. I didn’t like it at first, but the real reason for not liking it is due to the fact that it was too real. After accepting that fact, I started enjoying the movie; actually I stopped thinking it as a movie until it ended.

“The Class” is not a movie in which the teacher earns respect from the students and everyone got along with each other after going through many crises. In the real life, the student may respect the teacher sometimes, but then life moves on and they moved on to the next stage. Everyone doesn’t learn a big old lesson about life and the real world unlike in “Gokusen”.

After the movie, I watched the Special Features and there’s when I got a big shock. Everyone acted so well so I assumed that they were carefully selected out of auditions, but they weren’t. The movie actually took place in a real middle school with the students who actually go there. After all, it is based on an autobiographical novel of Francois Begaudeau.

So, before I go further, I should describe the plot first.

Mr. Marin (Francois Begaudeau) is a French teacher at a middle school in Paris. He has been teaching at that school for four years and a new term has started. He has to teach a class which is comprised of a melting pot of modern-day French society. Most of the students are disrespectful and uncooperative. They are always looking for chances to question back the teacher. Here, I noticed that the teacher allows them much freedom. They can chew gum, talk to friends while lessons are being taught, and even use the cell phone. I also noticed that he didn’t try to push his authority as a teacher on the students. But, of course, no one is perfect. So, one day, in a heated argument with the class representatives, he ended up insulting them. Another student objected to this remark and he walked out of the class after accidently unintentionally injuring a female student.

In the end, he was expelled from school, although Mr. Marin didn’t want that, but he couldn’t do anything about it since discipline was required at school. Here, I thought the students will be angry with the school’s decision, but the scene moved on to the last day of school where the students recount what they had learned during their nine months in school. The movie ended happily with the teachers playing soccer while the students cheer them.

If I have to choose my favorite character in the film, it has to be Esmeralda, who reminded me a lot about a classmate from my junior high school. But, if I were to choose a character who represents me, I would choose Wei because not only is he an Asian, but he’s also smart and does well in school. He only has problem in French since he’s an immigrant who had been living in France for three years. He also only hangs out mainly with an Asian friend, which I did back when I was his age. The only thing that doesn’t match with my personality is that he enjoys playing computer games while I would rather watch TV and read books.

I can definitely say that not all people would enjoy this film, especially those from societies in which teachers are always respected by their students. I don’t even bother to show this to my parents, because they would totally disagree with the students’ reactions. Sometimes, I almost forget that students can disrespectful in class. Even back in our diploma classes, even though we disagreed with the teachers sometimes, we never voiced our opinions directly to them. We only talked behind their backs: D. Seeing “The Class” reminded me of my school experiences, especially in junior high. Not all of the students loved their teachers and the feeling was mutual. Even I disliked the 7th grade English teacher and sometimes I didn’t get along with the 8th grade English teacher. I only liked the 9th grade English teacher because she allowed us to read book classic and entertainment. She was the one who invited Judy Blume to meet with our class and I would never forget that experience.

Although most students disliked their teachers, only some of them were troublemakers. They are some students who usually get into fights in the Spanish class while the teacher just sit and do nothing. Once, I was knocked out of my seat due to a fight that broke out near me. Most of them just get suspended, but I don’t recall anyone who was expelled from school. That’s why I thought it was harsh for the kid to get expelled.

So, back to the topic, ‘The Class’ is received the Best Picture at the Cannes Festival in 2008. It was also nominated as Best Foreign Language Film in 2009 Academy Awards. When the movie was selected in the Cannes Festival, the director brought the whole class to attend the festival and that was really touching.


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