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Christophe Barratier: Les Choristes (2004)

English Youtube subtitles

Virginie Guichard: Songs of Praise

A decade ago, French cinema delivered one of the must-see films of the year. It was La Haine: a rap-scored, denunciatory firebrand of a movie that dealt with social unrest and the disaffection of youth head on, and forced France into a severe bout of self-examination. This year, the success story of French cinema is a corny, nostalgic story about choir-singing set in the faraway world of the 1940s. Les Choristes (The Chorus) tells the story of Clément Mathieu, a failed musician forced to take a job as a supervisor in one of the tough "correctional houses" set up after the war for difficult youngsters. After becoming the victim of his charges' pranks, Mathieu restores discipline by forming his unruly pupils into a choir.

When Christophe Barratier decided to direct the film, a loose remake of obscure 1945 film La Cage aux Rossignols, he had trouble securing financing. Ironically, many investors judged its subject matter too unfashionable. Les Choristes, though, has turned into a phenomenon, unexpectedly finding itself perfectly in tune with the mood of the French public. Made on a small budget of €5.5m (£3.8m), it attracted 8.6 million viewers and was the highest grossing film of 2004 in France, outshining more obvious blockbusters such as Shrek 2 and Harry Potter 3. Since then, Les Choristes has also topped the DVD chart, the soundtrack has sold around a million copies and the film was selected to represent France at the Oscars.

The film's success looks less surprising when you realise that it taps simultaneously into two trends prevalent in France today. On the one hand, there is the appetite for simple stories about ordinary people - which also partly explains the unexpected success of award-winning documentary Etre et Avoir three years ago. A mediocre musician who is able to inspire his pupils, an old-fashioned village schoolteacher: these are the unsung heroes of middle France, the little people with whom a public - increasingly disillusioned with its aloof, corrupt government - can identify. In Gérard Jugnot, who plays Clément Mathieu, the French public has found the perfect champion: a round, balding man with a squeaky voice who has made a career playing average joes and nobodies. But where Jugnot once lampooned the moronic, hypocritical and cowardly tendencies of the typical French male (most famously in 1978 satire Les Bronzés), now he is the straightforward hero of the downtrodden masses.

The second, even more crucial trend is a popular nostalgia for the France of the postwar years. French cinema has always been characterised by the uneasy co-existence of a populist, conservative tendency on the one hand and radical, hard-hitting film-making on the other. The success of Les Choristes suggests the pendulum is swinging the way of the nostalgists.

This can be traced back to Jean-Pierre Jeunet's hugely successful Amélie, a film that, although set in the present day, has an unmistakably retro feel, steadfastly refusing to let the reality of modern-day Paris spoil its rose-tinted vision. Since then, we've had Bon Voyage, an old-fashioned second world war caper more inter ested in period re-creation than in the momentous historical events it evokes, and Belleville Rendezvous, a resolutely old-school, 1950s-inspired animation. Jeunet's latest, A Very Long Engagement, travels further back in time, sweetening the horrors of the first world war. And it's not just on the big screen that this traditional France is all the rage. Hot on the heels of Les Choristes came the hit reality TV show Le Pensionnat de Chavagnes, on the youth-orientated channel M6, in which 24 youngsters are subjected to the grey uniforms and heavyhanded discipline of a postwar boarding school.

However, nostalgia means different things to different film-makers. Barratier says he set Les Choristes in the past because he likes "studio cinema, a cinema of décors, a cinema of the fake, of re-creation" - a cinema that allows him "to escape from the contemporary world". For Sylvain Chomet, director of Belleville Rendezvous, nostalgia is also about style. "I like to draw interesting things and in the modern world, cars and clothes are not very interesting. They are not beautiful objects like they were in the 50s. I miss the quality of 40s and 50s cartoons; there was an aesthetic concern that you don't find today, I mean, cartoons like Shrek are really very ugly." But whereas Chomet poaches objects from the past to create a deliriously inventive and humorous world in Belleville Rendezvous, Barratier simply peddles a sentimental view of the past.

Les Choristes makes no attempt to represent the past realistically: it glosses over the harshness of the correctional houses, and doesn't dwell on the kind of corporal punishment that was common at the time. This is in stark contrast to a classic of French cinema, François Truffaut's Les 400 Coups, with its potent depiction of the grim, repressive nature of 1950s educational institutions.

The musty, sepia-tinted Les Choristes looks back in more ways than one: it feels curiously like a return to the "cinéma de papa", the postwar cinema that the Nouvelle Vague film-makers denounced as unchallenging, stale and irrelevant to modern times. By the mid-1950s, the French film industry had become set in its ways, dominated by ageing film-makers such as Claude Autant-Lara and Marcel Carné, who were out of touch with the concerns of an increasingily assertive younger generation. The films criticised by the Nouvelle Vague portrayed artificial worlds peopled by characters speaking a formal, stilted language that had nothing to do with the real world and even less to do with the way young people lived and loved.

Although a young first-time director, Barratier propounds in Les Choristes a similarly conservative and anachronistic view of the world. Imagine the story set in one of today's tough urban schools and the idea of choir-singing as child control becomes simply laughable. It's a problem Barratier acknowledges, saying he never considered transposing the story to the present day because "you'd have to get into issues like housing projects, chronic unemployment, assimilation, juvenile delinquency". In the pre-immigration world of Les Choristes, there are no dark faces and no need to address the thorny question of integration.

Barratier's approach is poles apart from another notable French film of 2004, Abdellatif Kechiche's L'Esquive, which follows a group of teenagers in a deprived school as they rehearse an 18th-century play. L'Esquive may only have been seen by 300,000 people, but it was the big winner of this year's Césars (the French Oscars) two weeks ago, earning four awards, including best film. Les Choristes left empty-handed. Significantly, the president of this year's jury was Isabelle Adjani (of La Reine Margot fame), who, in her introductory speech, reminded the audience of her Algerian-German origins. While the popular success of Les Choristes may indicate that a significant part of the French public prefers to retreat to a beret-and-baguette image of itself, the Césars have shown that not everybody has been seduced.

Source: The Guardian


 

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title & a few lines of the song are English, but the song is Korean.
sorry it has some English, but I can't resist posting it bc I love this song haha


Russian, which I can't even read so I always have to search through my favorites when I want to listen to this :laughing:




 

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Post foreign language songs. No English.

And even if you don't understand the language at all, music itself is a language, with melodies, emotions, vocal performance, and the different instruments and scales used in different cultures.

I’ll begin:
Your avatar somehow makes me believe you got exotic tastes lol
 

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These are beautiful collaboration between faiths. Just testing your appetite.

Arabic/English christian/moslem version of Hallelujah

Arabic egyptian coptic version of Immanuel

Ave Maria with Islamic adzan


P.S: i am an ignostic who just appreciate human cultures all over the world, in case someone asked

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These are beautiful collaboration between faiths. Just testing your appetite.

P.S: i am an ignostic who just appreciate human cultures all over the world, in case someone asked

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your nationality is one of the greatest mysteries in this this site lol
 
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