Review: Les Grands Espirits

Education is a leading issue in today’s world, especially in less economically developed areas.

This happens because qualified teachers are usually unwilling to work in such areas.

Les Grands Esprits, a film by Olivier Ayache-Vidal, is about schools in smaller and more troubled areas in France where the standard of education is not the same and the Ministry of Education is working towards it.

Francois Foucault, a French literature teacher from a well-known Parisian school, Lycée Henry IV, is transferred to a small school in Stains.

Stains is a troubled small town in the outskirts of Paris where he must teach a group of children who don’t care about school, in contrast with the students in his previous school, where they were attentive and interested in learning.

Foucault adapts over time and forms a bond with all of his students. The other teachers in the school still find it impossible to maintain decorum in their classes, while Francois is thriving.

He realizes that the students aren’t stupid. They’ve been told that they aren’t capable since the beginning and they just needed someone to believe in them. He understands that he must be firm and understanding rather than condescending and cold.  

Francois encourages the students to use French literature in their lives and he succeeds in his initial goal; to help these students learn.

This film was beautiful and engrossing. All of the young actors were inexperienced, and they actually happened to study in Stains.

This knowledge brought a sense of reality in the film. Olivier Ayache-Vidal spent two years with that class to understand them and what they go through back at home, which the film captures charmingly.

The students become your friends along the movie and you almost experience what they do. 


Edited by Nalin Mahajan. 

Image by Variety 

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