Les Choristes (The Chorus)

In a prologue, internationally renowned conductor Pierre Morhange receives word of his mother's death and returns to France for her funeral. Following the services he is visited by Pépinot, a classmate at the correctional school Fond de L'Etang (literally, Bottom of the Pond) they attended. Pépinot has brought Morhange the journal of Clément Mathieu, the school supervisor and unofficial choirmaster. As Morhange begins to read, we flashback to 1949 and the arrival of middle-aged Mathieu at the school. Resigned to abandoning his dream of composing music, he is optimistic about his new position despite the attitude of his predecessor, who doesn't conceal his relief at relinquishing his post. Prior to his departure, he warns Mathieu about some of the more troublesome students, including Le Querrec, whose booby trap severely injured Maxence, the school's elderly custodian, and Pierre Morhange, a boy with an angelic face but devilish temperament. Not all of the students are malevolent, however, such as diminutive orphan Pépinot, who continually assures everyone his father will be coming for him on Saturday. The school's strict, sadistic, and unsympathetic headmaster Rachin believes firmly in the theory "Action-Reaction," and together with teacher Chabert administers corporal punishment and terms of confinement on a regular basis, but their methods prove to be ineffective.

After several failed attempts to discipline his students, Mathieu decides to try to reach them through music. He turns his class into a choir and teaches the boys his original compositions. His efforts are disrupted by Mondain, a new arrival who, although not officially crazy, is a borderline case with an extremely violent temper and anti-social attitude. His blatant ignoring of the rules soon causes the others to follow suit. Meanwhile, Morhange is disturbed by what he perceives to be a budding relationship between his single mother Violette and Mathieu, who offers to help her enroll the boy in a conservatory in Lyon. Eventually Mondain is accused of stealing and is removed by the police. When Mathieu discovers the true identity of the thief, he urges Rachin to clear Mondain of the charges, but the spiteful headmaster refuses. He fires Mathieu after he organizes an outing for the boys during Rachin's absence, even though they were spared from serious injury from a fire set by a vindictive Mondain while they were away from the school. We already know how Mathieu influenced Pierre Morhange's life; what effect he had on the future of little Pépinot is revealed in the film's final moments. He took Pépinot with him, on a Saturday.

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