In our quest to encourage the learning of French in a pragmatic manner, we highly advocate the use of audiovisuals; movies, short videos, documentaries. Below is a list of intriguing movies every French beginner should watch (in no particular order, of course)

1. Kirikou et la sorciere :
Directed by Michel Ocelot and released in 1998, Kirikou et la sorciere is an animation based on a tale on African culture, particularly that of West Africa. It’s about a young smart boy who helps fight against a witch terrorizing his village.

2. Entre les murs (the class):
Entre les murs is a multiple award winning movie directed by Laurent Cantet. This movie talks about the life of a French language and literature teacher and how he deals with « difficult students” who have family and identity problems thus having a negative effect on their learning ability. It is based on the 2006 novel by Francois Begaudeau and it is heavy laden with slangs and colloquial expressions. It might be hard for a beginner to follow without subtitles.

3. Tanguy
Directed by Etienne Chatiliez, Tanguy is a movie about a well educated young university teacher of Asian languages who, though very wealthy and successful still lives with his parents. This movie is particularly good for many reasons since the pace of speech is relatively slow and contains everyday expressions which will be useful to learners. Today, the word ‘tanguy’ is used for a man who still lives with his parents.

4. Un homme qui crie , 2010
Directed by Mahamat Saleh Haroun, un homme qui crie is a tale revolving around the civil war in Chad, and tells a story of a man who sends his child to war in order to regain his position at an upscale hotel. Themes of fatherhood and culture are explored in this movie.

5. Le nid de guêpes , 2002.

Directed by Florent Emilio Siri, le nid de guêpes is an action movie which talks about an agent of the French forces, tasked to escort the head of the Albanian mafia for his court hearing. An ambush is laid and the head of the Albanian mafia escapes. This is one for the action lovers.

6. The Intouchables

Directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, the Intouchables is inspired by the story Of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his French-Algerian caretaker Abdel Sellou. This movie tells the tale of a rich quadriplegic who gets injured from a paragliding incident and a kid from the projects whom he hires to be his caretaker. The two form a bond which can bring you to tears if you have tear ducts that like to show off, like mine. This movie is laced with various styles of expression in French which will surely be beneficial to every student of the French language.

7. Les choristes
Les choristes is a film directed by Christophe Barratier, centered on a group of unruly schoolboys and how new teacher, Clément Mathieu rechannels their energy by forming a choir. The language is quite straightforward, although there is a continuous of use of le passé simple (now replaced with le passé composé) which could prove problematic to beginners.

8. Etre et avoir
This is a film/documentary directed by Nicholas Philibert and is centered on the relationship between a teacher called Lopez and his pupils. This documentary follows his work with his pupils over a period of one year and is a highly recommended movie for any French learner because you get to learn from the various skills Lopez shares with his pupils on how to better understand the French Language.

9. Potiche
The utmost feminist tale, Potiche is a movie directed by Francois Ozon which talks about a trophy wife, who after the death of her husband, takes over the management of her late husband’s business. Initially disliked by the workers, she eventually becomes the ‘apple of their eyes’ after she displays real knowledge of the business.

10. Le jouet
This is a 1976 comedy directed by Francis Veber. The movie captures a story of a little boy and his ‘corrupt’ father who is used to getting everything he wants. The little boy hires a journalist as his personal “toy” and they eventually expose his father’s wrong deeds.

Depending on your level of French, you can decide to use subtitles or not. Alternatively, you can look out for French versions of movies you have already seen in English and use subtitles to help you to follow them. You might not understand everything right from the first play, but don’t be discouraged. A few more plays will make it more crystal for you to follow.


 By Sena Amankwa