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To Be and to Have

4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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(Jan 01, 2002)
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DVD
(Oct 19, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

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

Special Features

  • Interview with director Nicolas Philibert
  • Children reciting poetry
  • Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Georges Lopez
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 2004
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002MFFG0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,489 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "To Be and to Have" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
To Be and to Have is a spontaneous documentary depicting the hard work a teacher continuously provides for his students in a rural part of France where mountains loom in the background. The words 'hard work' are relative as it is manually considered light work while the hours and the emotional patience might be weary on the hardest of men. In addition, very few teachers are recognized for the work they provide for an emerging generation that will eventually take over from the current generation. Nonetheless, the teacher's satisfaction is provided through the success of those he teaches, as they will move away and in due time discover what secrets rest behind the mountains.

The teacher, Georges Lopez, teaches a combined elementary school where the student's age varies with the youngest at about four years old. Despite the wide range of ages among the students Mr. Lopez succeeds in teaching them what is needed to advance academically. The students learn how to draw and write proper letters and numbers and learn what diameter and radius mean. One of the amusing moments in the film is when the younger students learn how to crack an egg and one student misses the bowl while cracking the egg to which Mr. Lopez simply says, "It's ok." This displays how Mr. Lopez does not miss an opportunity for learning, as the child learns a lesson in how to deal with failure. There is a serenity surrounding Mr. Lopez to which the students seem to respond well, which is implemented even when he is dealing with bullying and fighting. It is easy to see that Mr. Lopez has a job that he loves, as he also mentions that he could not imagine having a different job.

The students are uncomplicated kids that prefer to play during recess and chat among one another.
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Format: DVD
Etre et Avoir documents the story of a rural French one-room school, where students from kindergarten to about 11 years old are taught by a devoted teacher who has taught at this schoolhouse for over 20 years. We get a glimpse into the homelife of one or two of the students, and the documentary crew (who spent a year at the school) manage to capture some truly charming spontaneous moments.

I found it fascinating to watch the kids learning their numbers and French grammar. I am reminded of that old joke about the American who went on vacation in France and was impressed at how educated the children there were: "I heard children as young as two years old, speaking French!"

All first-year teachers could benefit from watching how the instructor deals with the children of different ages. He is patient, but he demands respect. He is stern when necessary but never cruel and the children love him, as it's clear he loves them. What a wonderful true story.
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By Chalkbrd on December 12, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was a nice video that is filmed like a documentary, but you are pulled in by the relationship the teacher has with his multi-level classroom students. It also gives a little glimpse into daily life for these French children.

Speaking as a French teacher, as French movies go, this one is very school appropriate, with only one bad word in the subtitles and no inappropriate scenes.
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Format: DVD
This is one of those movies that you buy copies of and send to everyone you know. My sister called me and demanded that I come to her house to watch this quaint little French film that she rented. I was not at all excited and planned to grade papers during the movie. Yet, I was immediately and completely distracted from my work tasks by the Debussy-like score as the snow powdered pines blew in the Auvergnian wind. Not to dwell on the score again, but it also perfectly mirrored the curious nature of the children as they discovered the world around them with the guidance of thier patient professor.

As I write this review, I am purchasing a copy for my best friend to brighten her day.
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Format: DVD
Etre et Avoir/ To Be and to Have is a masterpiece of documentary filmmaking. I watched this with my wife and we were both taken in by the story of the teacher in the twilight of his career using all his acquired skill and experience to shape these children. Not only teaching them to read and write, but also teaching them their personal worth and place in society. You'll laugh and cry. Any teacher or anyone planning on teaching should view this film.

I loved that there was no voice over commentary from the director, which allowed you get an unbiased view into the life of this little schoolhouse. Forget Michael Moore and his propaganda laced documentary, Nicolas Philbert isn't selling you any of his ideas, but you'll buy into the story line. The shots are beautiful and you'll wish grew up in small farming town in France. Absolutely Stunning. A must see. Thank you Nicolas Philbert.
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Format: DVD
On the last day of school, teacher George Lopez dismisses his students for the final time with hugs and kisses. He is nearly in tears, and so are we the viewers. To Be and To Have, France's highest grossing documentary ever, follows Lopez and his class of a dozen elementary kids ages 3-11 in rural France for most of the academic year. The film is entirely without comment or narration, except for a two or three minute segment towards the end when Lopez explains how and why he spent 35 years as a teacher. The reason? Pure love and joy, which goes a long way toward explaining why he was a master teacher, and this otherwise slow-moving film is so powerful and even magic. We see the kids reading and writing, fighting and farming, baking, sledding and celebrating class birthdays. In my favorite scene, Lopez coaches little Jo Jo to discover that he can count to a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, and even a billion or more. You see his little mind reeling with the unfolding realization that numbers never stop! For the most part the kids are oblivious to the camera. The true story of a life well spent, the spontaneity of children, and spectacular scenery of rural France make this film a visual and emotional delight. In French with English subtitles.
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