Learning French

Our 12-year-old is studying French at school, and as a result, she and my husband have been practicing their French conversation every night.  They also decided to try to watch one French film a week. “Fantastique!” I chimed in, “Le Biblioteque avais un coleccion grand!” My daughter corrected me, “Ils ont une grande collection” she said smiling at my effort.

Choosing a film that the whole family could enjoy, in French, would present a challenge, I thought. But as I began to browse through the library’s extensive French DVD collection, I quickly found myself with too many films for one night in hand. The challenge would be in choosing which one to watch first, I realized. I held Le MillionMon UncleDantonLa Chevre, Three Men and a CradleThe Visitors, and The Class. All fantastique! Then I spotted a film I didn’t realize the library had, Marcel Pagnol’s Cesar, part of a series, which in the library’s catalog is listed under The Fanny Trilogy.

Pagnol, who started out as a playwright in 1930’s France, is better known for the beautiful 2007 film, Jean de Florette followed by Manon of the Spring, also contenders for family viewing. But The Fanny Trilogy, a classic from the 1930’s, starting with the film, Marius, is what brought Pagnol’s first success. Set in Marseilles, with a cast of characters some of whom were not professional actors, the film is a love story set over several decades, and an homage to the local accents of Mediterranean France.

We watched Marius, and though the kids groaned when they saw it was black and white, they enjoyed it. For our children, watching older films requires practice I realized, and patience too….not unlike the challenges their parents face learning a new language. I’ll have to take advantage of Mango, the library’s online language program.

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