The Class (2008 film)

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"Entre les murs" redirects here. For the novel, see Entre les murs (novel).
The Class
Theatrical release poster featuring Esmeralda Ouertani and Rachel Regulier
Directed by Laurent Cantet
Produced by Caroline Benjo
Carole Scotta
Written by Laurent Cantet
François Bégaudeau
Robin Campillo
Based on Entre les murs
by François Bégaudeau
Starring François Bégaudeau
Cinematography Pierre Milon
Edited by Robin Campillo
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • September 24, 2008 (2008-09-24)
Running time
128 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget 2 480 000 €
Box office 13 221 320 €

The Class is a 2008 French drama film directed by Laurent Cantet. Its original French title is Entre les murs, which translates literally to "Between the walls" or "Within the walls". It is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by François Bégaudeau. The novel is a semi-autobiographical account of Bégaudeau's experiences as a French language and literature teacher in a middle school in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, particularly illuminating his struggles with "problem children" Esmerelda (Esmeralda Ouertani), Khoumba (Rachel Regulier), and Souleymane (Franck Keïta). The film stars Bégaudeau himself in the role of the teacher.[1][2]

The film received the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival,[3] making it the first French film to do so since 1987, when Maurice Pialat won the award for Under the Sun of Satan.


The film covers an academic year, beginning with the teachers gathering for the autumn term, introducing themselves to each other and being welcomed by the principal, an unsmiling figure wearing rimless glasses. It ends with an informal game of football between staff and pupils and a long hand-held shot of an empty classroom.

The camera never leaves the school. The film is set in the staff room, the playground, the dining room, the principal's office, a conference room, and the classroom where François Marin (François Bégaudeau) teaches French (i.e., language arts) to a mixed group of 13- and 14-year-olds.

The film centers around Marin and the various experiences he has with students in his French literature class. The class is difficult, as Marin is unable to relate to his students due to his ethnicity and class status . Marin makes various attempts to try and garner trust and respect from his students but fails miserably . At the students protest of their dislike of the required reading material Anne Frank due to lack of cultural relevance , Marin tries to gain insight into the lives of his pupils. He assigns them to write self-portraits which describe their aspirations, hobbies and dislikes. These are eventually collated by Marin who creates an end-of-year book with them. Most of his students respond positively to this assignment including soulemayne , a student from Mali whom Marin allows to complete a photographic autobiography . However all this new found trust and respect that Marin gets from his students quickly dissipates after a faculty meeting in which two of his students are allowed to attend as class representatives . Marin would go on to make disparaging comments about one of his students in this meeting and even more disparaging remarks about the class representatives who would serve to be whistle blowers later on in the film . The film concludes with consequences of Marin's actions and failures that ultimately leave him unscathed and one of his students expelled . The film explores themes of colonialism , displacement , assimilation versus cultural pluralism and white privlege .


  • Burak Ozyilmaz: Burak
  • Boubacar Toure: Boubacar
  • Carl Nanor: Carl, a student who arrived during the year (after expulsion from another middle school)
  • Esmeralda Ouertani: Esmeralda, another class representative
  • Franck Keita: Souleymane, a student who enters the Disciplinary Board
  • François Bégaudeau: François Marin, a French teacher and form teacher
  • Jean-Michel Simonet: The headmaster
  • Louise Grinberg: Louise, the class representative, first class
  • Rachel Régulier: Khoumba, a student who refuses to read
  • Vincent Robert: Hervé, the sports teacher.


The cast at Cannes Film Festival 2008

The film has received critical acclaim, achieving a 96% rating at Rotten Tomatoes out of 150 reviews counted.[4] Metacritic lists Entre les murs with a rating of 92,[5] making it one of the best reviewed films of the year according to the website.

The film was warmly reviewed by the critic Philip French who noted: "There is a remarkable French tradition of school films, extending from Jean Vigo's Zéro de Conduite, to Nicolas Philibert's Être et avoir. Laurent Cantet, whose parents were both teachers, carries it on and he elicits marvellous performances...As the teacher at a tough, racially mixed, inner-city school in Paris, Marin (François Bégaudeau), neither weary cynic nor wide-eyed idealist, is a decent, determined realist..not a saint, though by the end of the school year he has exhibited certain of the necessary qualities."[6]

The film was the featured 'opening night' selection at the 46th New York Film Festival in 2008.

Top ten lists[edit]

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • César Awards
    • Best Writing - Adaptation (François Bégaudeau, Robin Campillo and Laurent Cantet)


  • César Awards
    • Best Director (Laurent Cantet)
    • Best Editing (Robin Campillo and Stephanie Leger)
    • Best Film
    • Best Sound (Olivier Mauvezin, Agnes Ravez and Jean-Pierre Laforce)


  1. ^ The New York Times
  2. ^ The New York Times
  3. ^ French film wins top Cannes prize
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Class". Metacritic. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Philip French review, The Observer, 1 March 2009
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Metacritic: 2008 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved January 11, 2009. 

External links[edit]