To analyse. The cinema made its comeback at the beginning of September. Just like the school, to which it does not miss, timing obliges, to be interested closely. The case is not new: the subject is promising and a factor in attendance success. More fundamentally, it affects families in what they hold most dear, the education of children and the transmission of values. There have always been, so to speak, two schools in films about school: the street thugs and the national education zealots.
On the bad boys side, Jean Vigo (Driving Zero1933) and François Truffaut (The four hundred Blows1959), even if they do not box in the same category, join forces with Claude Zidi (The Under-Gifted pass the baccalaureate1980) and to Philippe de Chauveron (Student Ducobu, 2011). In the camp of good students, Nicolas Philibert (To be and to Have2002) and Laurent Cantet (Between the walls2008) work together with Christophe Barratier (The chorists2004) and with Pierre-François Martin-Laval (Teachers2013).
But the question is no longer really there. Rather in the fact that, far from the sanctuary of political neutrality and equal opportunity, the school has not escaped for a long time (if that had ever been the case) from the weight of the ills of the society which ‘surrounded. Let’s review about it Graduate first (1978), by Maurice Pialat, It starts today (1999), by Bertrand Tavernier and, closer to us Student services office (2019), by Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir.
This comeback does not cut it. To the old grievances which accuse it of being a factory of social reproduction and of maintaining a dogmatic and unnecessarily competitive conception of pedagogy, are added today, in the shadow of disinvestment of the State, the “robocopization” of access to higher education (Parcoursup) and the damage caused by the health crisis, the fact that school has become for students, but also for their parents, a “stress machine” and a dormant institution, weakened by the shortage of all categories of staff, starting with teachers.
Looking more closely at the films that are appearing on the big screen these months, we will nevertheless note, however lucid and critical, the persistence of a belief in this Republican melting pot. The example is given by the king of dunces, Ducobu, hero of a popular saga inaugurated in 2011. Is it not that the last and fourth opus – Ducobu presidentdirected by Elie Semoun and released on July 13 – stands without warning on the side of the master old fashion in a gray blouse interpreted by Semoun, against the deleterious intrigues of a false Teutonic pedagogue (Ary Abittan), who would like to establish the horror of alternative pedagogy on our glorious educational square.
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