To improve your French language skills, I recommend that you watch French movies. Understanding French from many voices and accents is necessary when visiting France and other French speaking countries. Movies often contain the slang (and sometimes a little profanity) you will encounter in French conversation.
The movie Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis is the all-time most popular French language movie at the box office in France. Over 20 million in France went to see it. Despite this unparalleled box office success, the movie did not receive any César awards (the French version of the Oscars). This lack of critical acclaim is common for a comedy in France.
Non-spoiler Movie Summary: A post office manager in the south of France commits fraud and is re-assigned to work at a city in the northern tip of France as punishment.
Notable performers in the movie: Dany Boon, Kad Merad
Release date: 2008
Director: Dany Boon
Rating = Not rated
What I liked about the movie:
- Entertaining and funny plot – I was laughing out loud during many of the scenes.
- Tremendous comic acting – Kad Merad is brilliant in his first leading role in a film. Danny Boon is very funny with his “ch’tis” dialect. The support cast is excellent.
- Unexpected ending – I loved the heart-warming conclusion. I don’t want to spoil the ending but it is very emotional.
What I disliked about the movie:
- French script – “ch’tis” dialect was difficult to understand.
- The English subtitles – the “ch’tis” dialect was translated into pseudo-English to convey the variation from the usual Parisian French dialect. For example the French word for chair was translated to English as “shkair” to simulate the French dialect. This often rendered the subtitles puzzling.
The ch’tis dialect
The movie portrays the inhabitants of the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France who speak the distinctly different dialect of French called ch’tis. The same dialect is alternatively called ch’timi (a term used in the movie) and in the French region of Picardie it is called Picard.
There is one inaccuracy in the movie. Although the people of Nord-Pas-de-Calais speak the ch’tis language, the city of Bergues, where the movie location takes place, is actually a Flemish language city.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this movie.
Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis is not available from Netflix (rare for the most popular French language movies). I was able to find a copy of the DVD in my local library in Carlsbad, California. The DVD is also available from the Amazon web site.
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