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In French with English Subtitles
SUBJECTS — Music; World/France; Literature/Poetry Analysis; Literary Devices: theme;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Self-esteem; Talent; Education;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Caring.
Age: 10+; MPAA Rating -- PG-13 Drama; 2005 (U.S. release); 96 minutes; Color.
The time is shortly after WW II; the place is somewhere in rural France at Fond de L'Etang (The Bottom of the Pond), a school for boys with discipline problems or whose families cannot keep them. Les Choristes tells the story of Pierre Morhange, a student with undiscovered musical talent, and Mssr. Mathieu, a frustrated musician who serves as the dean of discipline. Opposing the school's strict methods of controlling the students, Mathieu begins to use music to affect change in the rowdy and ill-natured boys. The successful effort to create a choir, with Morhange as the featured soloist, changes the students and the teacher.
Students will empathize with the young characters in the film and benefit from the demonstration of hope and caring that constitute the theme.
English Language Arts classes can focus on explicating translations of the poems that constitute lyrics for the songs O Nuit! and Vois Sur Ton Chemin. The Learning Guide provides exercises using the "say, mean, matter" method of analyzing poetry. Discussion questions/essay prompts help teachers craft lessons in discovering theme and writing about it. Competence in each of these activities is required by ELA standards.
French Language Classes will benefit when students translate the lyrics of songs from Les Choristes. Students can then practice their skills in French by writing explications of the poems. The discussion questions relating to theme can prompt lively exchanges and serve as writing prompts for essays in the language of the film.
Music classes and choirs may benefit from improved motivation and esprit de corps after watching this movie. Students can also be asked to trace the history of children's choirs, both in Europe and the United States. Presentations can be made using YouTube or actual recordings of famous choirs such as the Vienna Boy's Choir or the several youth choirs that are based in American cities.
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Les Choristes is a delightful film full of positive moral and life lessons.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below are some discussion questions from the Learning Guide to Les Choristes.
Have students use the "say, mean, matter" method of interpretation to analyze the poems which are the lyrics for the songs O Nuit! and Vois Sur Ton Chemin.
Below is a model of a strong response to this assignment.
1. What is the poet saying in the poem O Nuit!?
Example of a Strong Response: Night time, give us the magical peace that we can see in you but we don't understand. The darkness that comes with you is gentle and good. You bring music that speaks of hope. You are strong. You turn everything into a dream. Night time, allow us to keep the peace of your magic. The darkness that comes with you is gentle and good. Dreams are beautiful. Hope is true.
2. In the poem O Nuit!, what does the poet mean?
Example of a Strong Response: . . . .
The Learning Guide to the film Les Choristes contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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