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Six classic French films to improve your language skills

These films will help to start your venture into the world of French cinema

Get into French cinema with these classics Pic: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

Watching television and films in French is the perfect way to practise your language skills while winding down. 

Fortunately, French cinema is world-renowned and there are loads of great movies to get your teeth into, whether you want to work on your French or are simply looking for a Friday night film. 

This month, we have selected six French classics to help launch your venture into French cinema. 

If you feel able to, the best way is to watch each film in French with French subtitles, however, if this feels overwhelming to begin with, keep the subtitles in English.

1. Les Choristes (The Chorus)

Les Choristes is a go-to film for French teachers at Christmas time as an end-of-term treat for their students. 

The heart-warming comedy follows the lives of a music teacher and his students at an all-boys boarding school in France. 

Teacher Clement Mathieu begins a choir, only for an unexpected star to emerge. 

With beautiful music accompaniments and easy dialogue, this is a great place to start. 

Read also: Books to help improve your French

2. Les Intouchables (The Untouchables)

Les Intouchables is an example of a French film that has transcended French viewers and permeated a global audience. 

A dramatic comedy released in 2011, it tells the story of two men from different backgrounds and the relationship between them. 

Philippe is a rich tetraplegic who employs Driss, a Senegalese man living in a Paris banlieue, as his carer. 

The film is based on a real story and the friendship between Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his French-Algerien, which was first shared in a documentary film called A la vie, A la mort

Les Intouchables was an instant box-office hit in France and was voted the cultural event of 2011 after receiving 52% of the votes. 

3. Amélie

Another classic, Amélie is a rom-com that offers a whimsical and dream-like portrayal of Paris. 

Protagonist Amélie decides to devote her life to improving those of others in her quest to find her happiness. 

Offering a picture-perfect view of life in Paris in the late 90s and early 2000s, it’s a wonderful watch to help you feel inspired by life in France. 

Read also: Five Netflix TV shows to help improve your French

4. La Vie en Rose

As the title suggests, La Vie en Rose follows the life of famous French singer Edith Piaf and her journey from child poverty to one of the world’s most renowned musicians. 

Marion Cotillard won a host of awards for her depiction of Edith, including the first Oscar ever awarded for a French language role, meaning you can expect some top-class acting.

5. Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise)

This is largely recognised as one of the greatest films of all time, so it has a lot to live up to.

Released in 1945, the film was produced during wartime, in France under both the Vichy regime and when it was occupied. 

It is set in 1830s Paris and depicts the story of an actress who is loved by four very different men in four different ways. 

6. Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis 

Released in 2008, Bienvenu Chez les Ch’tis was the highest-grossing French film of all time until it was surpassed by Les Intouchables three years later. 

It tells the story of the manager of a post office in the south of France, who ends up being banished to northern France where the cold rainy weather is a far cry from the sunshine of the south. 

The film follows Philippe’s life as he tries to accustom himself to the new place, language and dialect - ch’ti.

This is another heartwarming insight into French communities and the power of the people around you to spark happiness.  

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