H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Class aka Entre les murs [Blu-ray]


(Laurent Cantet, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC)

Video: Sony Pictures



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:09:43.776

Disc Size: 44,692,232,188 bytes

Feature Size: 34,235,860,992 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.96 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 11th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1235 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1235 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby TrueHD Audio French 1237 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1237 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps



English, English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



'Making of...' - 41:43 in SD

Scene Specific (3) Commentaries with Director Laurent Cantet and Writer/Actor Francois Begaudeau – “The Imperfect of the Subjunctine” (15:11), “The Courtyard Dispute” (8:28) and “The Disciplinary Board” (15:55) - in SD letterboxed widescreen


Exclusive to the Blu-ray

Actors’ Workshop – (30:05) - 1.33 SD

• Actors’ Self-Portraits – (12:02) - in SD letterboxed widescreen

BD-LIVE enabled





Description: At a tough inner-city middle school in Paris, a dedicated teacher named Mr. Marin (Francois Begaudeau) begins the new term. Taking on a class comprised of a melting pot of modern-day French society, he pushes and prods his pupils while striving to gain their respect. And as each side challenges the other over issues both academic and personal, Mr. Marin and his students are about to get an education they’ll never forget. The winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, THE CLASS is both powerful and provocative, “an artful, intelligent movie” (Manohla Dargis, The New York Times) based on Begaudeau’s best-selling autobiographical novel.



The Film:

Richly deserving of the Oscar nomination it recently received as Best Foreign-Language film, Laurent Cantet's scrappy mesmerizer of a movie about a life in learning sneaks up and floors you. The film is based on an autobiographical novel by François Bégaudeau, a French schoolteacher who grapples with junior-high students in a racially mixed section of France. Though Cantet shoots the film documentary style, Bégaudeau, as Francois Marin, is actually playing a fictionalized version of himself — and doing it superbly by the way. The actors are actual students playing at being themselves — also doing it superbly. Using mobile high-definition cameras that prowl around the classroom like proverbial flies on the wall, Cantet achieves a rare immediacy. 

There are times when fists fly as fast as the arguments and you want to duck. Over the course of a year with this teacher, flawed and conflicted in ways that Hollywood would run from, The Class creates a frenzy of bad behavior, divided loyalties and hard won compromise — a parallel universe that looks very much like our own. The premise that all life is high school has never seemed as scarily true and oddly hopeful then it does here. Fierce, funny and moving, The Class graduates with honors. It's unmissable. Absentees will be punished.

Excerpt from Peter Travers at Rolling Stone located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Classroom (Entre le Murs) looks to have been shot in HDCAM and printed to 35mm. Hence it does not resemble the modern film-to-Blu-ray appearance.  It is softer in motion, never achieving any notable depth and the 'video' look is consistent. But I'll assume that this 1080P rendering on a dual-layered disc is as good as this film will look. It's quite competent as far as the transfer goes but it won't produce the type of stunning visuals some have come to associate with this new format. There is no gloss while contrast and colors are impressive.  This Blu-ray probably looks just like the film The Classroom and you can't really ask any more to watch in your home theater.














Audio :

We get two TrueHD 5.1 tracks at around 1200 kbps - original French and an English DUB - there is also a standard Dolby 5.1 Spanish DUB. My software analysis seems to run contrary to what the packaging and menus state (3.0 channel and Spanish LCR discreet) but the mix is fairly non-consequential as the film is entirely dialogue driven. You won't be getting any workout for your rear speakers here. I strongly suggest listening to the original French, though, with optional English subtitles for those who require it. There is also French and Spanish subs available. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

Extras don't have a strong video presence with all in SD, some 1.33 and others in letterbox widescreen. The included 'Making of...', running over 40-minutes, has s similar feel to the film - forthright and unpretentious. We get the low down on 3 specific scenes form The Classroom with commentary by director Laurent Cantet and writer/actor Francois Begaudeau. These include “The Imperfect of the Subjunctine” (15:11), “The Courtyard Dispute” (8:28) and “The Disciplinary Board” (15:55). The potential for 'swarming' in “The Courtyard Dispute” seems the most worthy of discussion here. Like all the extras these are, expectantly, in French with removable English (or Spanish) subtitles. Exclusive to the Blu-ray version are an Actors’ Workshop running 1/2 hour and Actors’ Self-Portraits for 12-minutes these add to the lean expression of the performers and how Cantet was able to extract such realism. Some may find this interesting - and others may be quite bored. This disc is also BD-LIVE enabled - but untested at the time of review.



The Classroom poses important questions and makes universal observations - not only about education but about society's generational conflicts as a whole. Although a surprise choice for the Sean Penn led jury at Cannes - it was nonetheless a great choice. Cantet's ability to produce 'realism' is both impressive and gives his project a compelling edge that we, honestly, don't see enough of in modern cinema. It was many years ago but I recall, to a more subtle degree, this same feeling in his excellent film Time-Out.  This Blu-ray in my opinion covers its bases on the AV front but purchasers should temper their expectations for the 'natural' production appearance. We definitely recommend this title. 

Gary Tooze

August 5th, 2009





About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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