To Be and to Have
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The National Society of Film Critics awarded Nicolas Philibert's lovely To Be and to Have a 2003 Best Documentary prize for its pastoral grace and subtle power. Philibert spent a period filming the rhythms and activities within a one-room schoolhouse in France's rural Auvergne region, where a soft-spoken teacher of 35 years, Georges Lopez, instructs pre-middle school children of varying ages in everything from reading to the making of crepes. The tall, mesmerizing Lopez, nearing retirement, is both a formidable and loving presence in his classroom, and the bucolic remoteness of his school has a way of amplifying such ordinary student dramas as fights, lagging grades, and painful shyness. Philibert gets a lot of mileage out of the antics of a loveable kid named Jojo, the decaying friendship of two older boys, and the grief of a young man whose father has cancer. A unique and moving experience. --Tom Keogh
- Interview with director Nicolas Philibert
- Children reciting poetry
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Top customer reviews
This film is an absolute masterpiece! There is such depth and affirmation to the teacher and to all those who appear in the film. It is a common theme - striving to reach underserved or overlooked children - to light the fire of wanting to learn and finding the bright potential in each one. George Lopez is a remarkably adept teacher who doesn't need the latest gadgets to create lessons that connect with each child. Patience, courtesy, a master guide's knowledge of the steps necessary for understanding are his tools, and he is a master craftsman. It is one human really reaching out and touching the heart of another in ways that will change lives, ways that lift the very spirit of each child. How very many seeds he has sown! What marvels will they reap? What a gift this teacher and all who strive like him are to every student and community! It reminds you what a difference personal dedication and an inspired noble soul can make in a world all to fascinated by technology and temporal glittery things. Spoken words and questions. Handwritten lessons. Yet they are so profound. This is what education and the vocation of teaching should return to - what we desperately need to hold on to lest we lose our very humanity.
Within that year it becomes obvious what an important and beneficial influence the teacher has on the lives of the young children in his classroom.
The teacher in this film is truly inspiring, yet still very human with his occasional moments of doubt.
I would encourage any teacher who has become demotivated to see this film to recover a sense of mission and importance.
Overall a very realistic but uplifting film.