Grande école

  • 110'
  • France
  • 2004
Grande école concerns a group of young men and women who are admitted to one of France's 'grandes écoles' where the administrative and political leaders of tomorrow are trained. They are among the country's best students and, it is assumed, will become part of the nation's elite. Primarily from the privileged classes, they are naturally being trained to maintain their power. However this film is actually about their 'sentimental education' as much their formal education, seen particularly from the perspective of the leading character whose desires shift from his fiancée to his much admired, Adonis-like male room-mate and finally to a young worker. This brings him into profound conflict with the school's presumptions. Professional certititudes are confronted by profound emotions and desires, the 'grande école' is troubled by 'grand amour'. It becomes a film about power, sexuality and finally race, since the young worker is of immigrant descent.Based upon a play, Grande école bears its theatrical roots in an intriguing way. Entirely opened out from a theatrical space in terms of its mise-en-scene, the film nevertheless has adopted a self-consciousness of dialogue and of the actors' performances. Salis has spoken of taking advantage of elements that are cinematic and some that are theatrical, and using language in a way that heightens our awareness of the film's themes. One is reminded of the similar strategies at play in the early films of Fassbinder. Salis' second feature is a bold departure from the norms of most contemporary young French cinema. [S.F.]
Robert Salis, Robert Sallis
World premiere
Country of production
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 2004
Ognon Pictures, Humbert Balsan
Pyramide International
Salim Kechiouche