Archive for the ‘French TV’ Category

What if Terry Gilliam had directed the Harry Potter films?

He could have. I found this out by looking up to see if Jean Rochefort had been in any of the Harry Potter films. He didn’t, but this turned up:

J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of books, is a fan of Gilliam’s work. Consequently, Gilliam was Rowling’s first choice for the director of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2000. Warner Brothers refused to consider Gilliam as director, instead selecting Chris Columbus for the job. Recently, Gilliam stated in relation to this episode, “I was the perfect guy to do Harry Potter. I remember leaving the meeting, getting in my car, and driving for about two hours along Mulholland Drive just so angry. I mean, Chris Columbus’ versions are terrible. Just dull. Pedestrian.” Gilliam, though rumoured for a day or so to direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as per IMDb, has stated that he will never direct any Potter film.

The reason this came up in the search is that Rochefort was supposed to play Don Quixote in Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. That project flopped but was documented in Lost in La Mancha. Somehow these two missed projects joined together to get my alternative history mind going.

Anyone familiar with Gilliam’s work can imagine how cool the Harry Potter films would have been had Terry Gilliam directed them!

The B2 reading portion

It was a bit more difficult than I expected. That’s due to the questions aren’t always straightforward. They tend to deal with themes, which was something that also applied on the listening section. The obvious example of this was the three opinions on home schooling. You had to evaluate the strength of their opinion since they didn’t come straight out and say “this is a good/bad idea.”

The only way to prep for this is to read a lot. Summarise what you read.

I think the DELF is more about test taking than actual knowledge. One person said you could pass the B2 with a super mark, yet be unable to order a coffee at CDG airport. Not sure if I totally agree with that statement.

Just remember to answer every question. Try and make an educated guess if you are unsure.

You only need to get 5 points on each section to pass. So, as long as you don’t totally blow a section, you will probably pass if you can get reasonable scores on most of the sections. So, I can get a not so great score on the listening and writing sections if I did really well on the spoken and reading sections and still pass: as long as no section is less than 5/25.

General thoughts on the DELF B2:

I like to think I passed the test, but I am prepared to take it again if I didn’t. That said, what do I think was the most useful? What would I do differently? What strategies would I advise someone who wants to take the Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française or the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française to use?

First off, the best thing is to either grow up speaking French, or spend some time in France, or other francophone region, living the language for 3-6 months. Better yet, a year using French as much as possible with francophones. It’s not really useful doing this unless the people you are interacting with are native speakers. There are linguistic nuances which just taking a course won’t give you.

That’s probably not an option if you are reading this. The next best thing is to listen and to watch French media. RFI ( is a really good choice since most of the listing segments came from them. You will have a bit of a leg up, especially if you heard the segment in question. I’ll take more about the different parts of the test in subsequent posts.

Reading is also helpful for learning orthographie. But it’s better to get a good handle on spoken French since the reading and speaking parts were fairly easy. Speaking was the easiest, but it helped to have listened to the clips. That said, there are a few site run by the French Government and media to help you prepare for the test.

You definitely want to take the test and can get old copies of the test here: The new format test is the most useful since that was pretty much what the test was like. The more I look at those, the more I think I did all right.

The two places you will have the most control over are the speaking and writing sections. The reading and listening sections are pretty much multiple guess on spoken and written segments. Again, taking the tests are the most helpful. I think working on the listening “comprehension” is the more useful of the two.

I’m not sure how useful most of the pass the DELF books are, other than the ones that prep you for the writing part. It really is go in with a bunch of “phrases tresors” and fill in the holes. “Phrase tresor” was a term used at Chateau Ceran for phrases that would prove useful in learning French. In this case, they are terms that are useful for making an argument. More on that when I talk about the writing part.

The bottom line is that unless you are a francophone, or can spend intensive time with some before the exam, you will need to study. But even francophones can have some problems with these tests because of how the questions are written (take the sample course to see). I’m planning on doing a few posts on the test. One for each of the four segments, one for prep material, study hints, and a final summary. I’m not sure which of the four I should start with: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking, or writing. In a way reading and listening overlap as do speaking and writing. There are some differences.

Encore mes devoirs: Un peu de polémique.

J’ai regardé Le Journal télevisé de France 24 et j’ai lu le reportage à Le Monde:

Le gouverneur du Texas, Greg Abbott, déclare qu’il croit que tout le monde a le droit à la vie. C’est fascinant puisque le Texas a à la fois la peine de mort et la loi du « stand your ground ». Les lois sur la légitime défense modifient le concept de légitime défense pour le faire dépendre de la peur subjective de la personne qui invoque cette défense légale. En revanche, Emmanuel Macron veut « relancer le combat pour l’abolition universelle » de la peine de mort dans un discours prononcé au Panthéon pour marquer le 40e anniversaire de l’abolition de la peine de mort en France. Il y a une différence manifeste entre l’attitude envers le droit à la vie au Texas et en France.

Le Texas semble croire que la peine de mort soit efficace pour prévenir le crime : même les exécutions extrajudiciaires. Mais la peine de mort est-elle efficace pour prévenir le crime ? L’un des anciens bourreaux de la Grande-Bretagne, Albert Pierrepoint, n’est pas d’accord. Il a dit : “Cela ne les a pas dissuadés à l’époque et cela ne les a pas dissuadés lorsqu’ils ont commis ce pour quoi ils ont été condamnés. Tous les hommes et les femmes que j’ai affrontés à ce moment final me convainquent que, dans ce que j’ai fait, je n’ai pas empêché un seul meurtre…”. Robert Badinter, l’ancien garde des sceaux qui avait fait voter l’abolition en 1981, agrée « conviction absolue : la peine de mort est vouée à disparaître dans le monde car elle est une honte pour l’humanité. Elle ne défend pas la société, elle la déshonore (…). Vive l’abolition universelle ! »

On passe des questions de justice pénale à celles de la santé lorsqu’on relie le droit à la vie aux choix de planning familial. Au lieu de cela, le Texas a choisi de faire un remake d’Une affaire de femmes de Claude Chabrol. C’est une histoire qui se déroule pendant l’occupation allemande de la France. Il s’inspire de l’histoire vraie de Marie-Louise Giraud, une des dernières femmes guillotinées en France. Le crime de Mme Giraud était de fournir des avortements aux femmes pauvres de France. La loi du Texas n’est peut-être pas si extrême, mais l’effet est le même : ce sont les pauvres qui seront touchés par cette loi. Les femmes aisées pourront se rendre là où l’avortement est légal, ce qui n’est pas une option pour les pauvres. Les fournisseurs d’avortement pour les pauvres seraient des femmes comme Mme Giraud, pas des professionnels de la santé, mais des femmes qui voudraient aider d’autres femmes.

Je dois me demander si le Texas comprend vraiment ce qu’un système de justice pénale devrait faire ? Est-ce qu’il cherche la justice ou la vengeance ?

Je suis désolé d’avoir désactivé mon compte de fesses de bouc

Or I would be posting about a Senegalese TV show called “Wara”. It looks really promising.

Africa is one of the reasons French is gaining position in World Languages since there are more French Speakers there than in France! Another nice thing: Africans speaking French are way easier to understand than Parisians (think Cockneys).

Le monde francophone

Did you know that spreading the French language is a priority of French National foreign policy? Part of this strategy is to subsidise lessons through the Alliance Française and other cultural events. Another good point is that wanting to improve your French language skills is an aid to getting residency. Although, one has to prove proficiency by passing the DELF(Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) level B2 examination as a requirement for French citizenship, unless you can pull off citizenship through a parent.

Another nice thing is that there are loads of resources for learning French online. While you can teach yourself French, I would strongly suggest having the help of someone who is proficient in the language help you. Especially since the DELF exams test not only your reading comprehension, but your ability to write and converse. That is your ability to use the language. It’s easy to read and listen, but a different thing altogether to speak and write.

Toss in that it is true that learning French is pretty much a lifelong process.

Technically, I am at an advanced level with my French skills, which makes sense since I have been pretty much speaking it since I was a child (same for German). My conversational skills suffer without using these languages on a regular basis. Things like Duolinguo, Kwiziq, and Frantastique are nice refreshers, but they don’t seem that practical on a long term basis. Frantastique is probably the best of the lot. It’s relatively painless to get started as they put you through a 14 “lesson” test period to find your level of skill. The lessons are cute, which probably makes them effective.

Kwiziq is a runner up. I started using it because it was good for grammar, but the problem with Kwiziq is that it is like a school that wants to push you to the next grade whether you are ready for the lessons or not. By that I mean there are a few questions on a subject. It never seems to me that you do enough of a drill to see if you truly understand the material. Of course, there are chatrooms and discussions for all three of these, which the developers say are what you should be using to get the result I hope to see.

Duolinguo determined that I was fluent after I passed its level 6 without even an understanding of the Passé antérieur. It has since added on quite a few more levels, but I’m not very impressed. Especially since it translated “Alle menschen Brueders sein” as “all people will be brothers”. They should have gone on to say “all people will be siblings” if they are going to trod that path (yes, I was marked wrong for my translation of the convention “all men will be brothers”). meanwhile the Gymglish German language program, Wunderbla said I was at the advanced intermediate level.

Anyway, there are more than enough French sites which teach French as well. I have a thing for Le Nouvel Observateur’s site:

The bottom line is that there are a lot of really great sites for learning French out there. Even better, you can improve your French in France.

“Ruby Sparks Speaks Fluent French” partie trois

OK, a much more appropriate first line would have been something like: “Mes gars, le dîner est servi. J’espère que vous avez un bon appétit.” Just “bon appétit” makes absolutely no sense.

And upset French woman would probably said “putain” and some variation of “connard”.

“Ruby Sparks Speaks Fluent French” partie deux

I was surfing the web when I came up with a French Actress named Delphine Théodore who looks a bit like Zoe Kazan. Here is the link to her demo reel Check her out and you’ll see why Zoe’s performance isn’t very accurate in my opinion. The fun thing would be to edit Delphine into the French scenes. Better yet, reshoot them with Delphine.

En surfant sur le web, je suis tombé sur une actrice française nommée Delphine Théodore qui ressemble un peu à Zoe Kazan. Voici le lien vers sa bande démo Regardez-la et vous verrez pourquoi la performance de Zoe n’est pas très fidèle à mon avis. Ce qui serait amusant, c’est de monter Delphine dans les scènes françaises. Mieux encore, les re-filmer avec Delphine.

Upset French Women and the magic word

Link to one of the Ruby Sparks “French” scenes.

OK, I have one criticism of the film Ruby Sparks and that is that she sounds like someone who may have had a few years of French when she is supposed to speak fluent French. She ain’t nowhere near fluent. The Ruby Sparks character is about a DELF A1 level. If that. I know what a pissed off French woman that age talks like.

I know what an upset French woman sounds like and that’s not it. For one thing, what this person calls the “magic word” is conspicuously absent, as are a few other choice words I would expect to hear.

I would have hired someone like Lizzie Brocheré, or some other bilingual French actress, to write the dialogue for those scenes. Maybe even dub the scenes as well for good measure.

J’ai rejoint l’Alliance Française

There are a few reasons for this. The main one is to take the DELF examination.  The DELF or Diplôme d’études en langue français  (which literally means Diploma in French Studies in English) is an official certification given by France’s National Ministry of Education to non-native French speakers after completing a set of proficiency tests. It is valid for life and is recognized anywhere in the world.

OK, why would someone who is fluent in French want to take this test? First off, France (and Canada) requires one show proficiency for citizenship. That should make a lot of immigration hawks ears perk up since they would like people to speak English. Of course, being able to speak the main language SHOULD be a requirement for citizenship. I say that because nationhood is somewhat based on shared culture.  Even if the shared culture is a mixture of other cultures.

Secondly, it proves that I can indeed speak French. Not that having lived in Belgium and spending time in other francophone countries doesn’t show that.  On the other hand, Brexit has made the search for EU citizenship a priority.  Even though I probably would have no issue with German citizenship, there are a few negatives to that one as a possibility.  The Poles says I am not ethnically Polish (Remember the map of Europe’s Borders? I come out as being British, French/Belgian, Czech/German, Polish/German, and just plain German (Rhineland Pfalz). Although, the Czech/German is more German (Saxony) than Czech.

Anyway, the Alliance Française seems to be the way to go.  It’s also probably something I should have done a while back, but my French language skills never needed to be certified until Brexit.

To pirate or not to pirate–that is the question

Series 7 of Un Village Français aired last year.  France 3 divided it into two parts the same way they did series 6, which is really annoying on several fronts.
UVF 5a
The first being that we find out what happens at the end of Series 5, which ends with an outdoor production of a play being raided by the Gestapo. It is safe to assume that things didn’t work out too well for our thespian members of the Maquis who decided that the show must go on from the picture to the left below.

I imagine Mueller having his troops give them a standing ovation before machinegunning them on the spot.UVF1

But, it’s taken a couple of series to learn their fate.  Not to mention find out what happens to the rest of the inhabitants of Villeneuve.

But there is a big drawback in that it seems this series is hard to find.  Although I did come up with a pirated copy of Series 7. And the subtitles are available at  I don’t feel right buying the pirated copy, but I also don’t like having to pay as much as the “official” English releases can cost.

I can only imagine that France 3 will again release all of Series 7 on DVD after all the episodes have aired.  That will be sometime this autumn.

Not sure I can hold out that long.

(Actually, this is available on a couple of streaming services which specialise in the type of non-US, furren language programming I like: e.g., and Amazon. I’ve signed up for a couple of these services since I don’t watch broadcast TV. I prefer to be my own programming director)

Further info: the First half of Series 7 has been released on disc.  MHz combined the first two series into one making the rest of them a number lower (i.e., 3 is 2, 4 is 3, etc.).  The first half of series 7 has been released as series 6.

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de Saint-GeorgesI want to push my fav character from black history, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, since this is black history month.

OK, I want to push my fav character from black history, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, since this is black history month, and I just posted that MTV video on the subject.

A short and abbreviated summary of is accomplishments focusing on his musical talents:

Born in Guadeloupe, he was the son of George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy planter, and Nanon, his African slave. Among his many accomplishments he was a champion fencer, a virtuoso violinist and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris. During the French Revolution, Saint-Georges was colonel of the Légion St.-Georges, the first all-black regiment in Europe, fighting on the side of the Republic.
Not sure how much about him is factual and how much his reputation has been fictionalised. He has been called the “black Mozart”, which kind of denigrates his abilities as a musician to be compared to Mozart. His musical abilities were eclipsed by his swordsmanship until François Gossec dedicated a set of six Trios to Saint Georges in 1766 that led to the revealation that the famous swordsman also played the violin. Some of the most important musicians in Europe contributed and respected the Chevlier’s musical abilities.  Dedications in Gossec’s and violinist Antonio Lolli concertis that were also dedicated to the Chevalier suggest that Lolli polished his violin technique and Gossec was his composition teacher. There is no basis to the not always reliable François-Joseph Fétis’ claim that Saint-Georges studied violin with Jean-Marie Leclair, however similar traits in technique indicate Pierre Gaviniès as one of his mentors.
In 1769, the Parisian public was amazed to see Saint-Georges, the great fencer, among the violins of Gossec’s new orchestra, Le Concert des Amateurs. Two years later he became its concertmaster, and in 1772 he created a sensation with his debut as a soloist, playing his first two violin concertos, Op. II, with Gossec conducting the orchestra. “These concertos were performed last winter at a concert of the Amateurs by the author himself, who received great applause as much for their performance as for their composition.”
According to another source, “The celebrated Saint-Georges, mulatto fencer [and] violinist, created a sensation in Paris … [when] two years later … at the Concert Spirituel, he was appreciated not as much for his compositions as for his performances, enrapturing especially the feminine members of his audience.”

In 1773, when Gossec took over the direction of the prestigious but troubled Concert Spirituel, he designated Saint-Georges as his successor as director of the Concert des Amateurs. Less than two years under his direction, “Performing with great precision and delicate nuances [the Amateurs] became the best orchestra for symphonies in Paris, and perhaps in all of Europe.

In 1781, due to the massive financial losses incurred by its patrons in shipping arms to the American Revolution, Saint Georges’s Concert des Amateurs had to be disbanded. Not one to let it go without a fight, Saint-Georges turned to his friend and admirer, Philippe D’Orléans, duc de Chartres, for help. In 1773 at age 26, Philippe was elected Grand Master of the ‘Grand Orient de France’ after uniting all the Masonic organizations in France. Responding to Saint-Georges’s plea, Philippe revived the orchestra as part of the Loge Olympique, an exclusive Freemason Lodge. Renamed Le Concert Olympique, with practically the same personnel, it performed in the grand salon of the Palais Royal. In 1785, Count D’Ogny, grandmaster of the Lodge and member of its cello section, authorized Saint-Georges to commission Haydn to compose six new symphonies for the “Concert Olympique.” Conducted by Saint-Georges, Haydn’s “Paris” symphonies were first performed at the Salle des Gardes-Suisses of the Tuileries, a much larger hall, in order to accommodate the huge public demand to hear Haydn’s new works.

 He has been portrayed in fiction. I thought I had posted about him being in the Nicolas Le Floch book/episode, Le dîner de Gueux (Beggars Banquet) where he is the champion of Louis XV in a fencing match. Not sure if some of his life has been “enhanced” by Roger de Beauvoir’s 1840 romantic novel about him called, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, or if it is truly as incredible without needing embellishments.  His musical talents are quite impressive, but he was more than just a musician.  The Chevalier was a man of his times in reality the way Nicolas Le Floch is in the fictional series.
Not sure why he is not better known other than he is “French”, but that shouldn’t detract on his reputation in modern times. It sure didn’t when he was alive.
The wikipedia article on him is quite impressive.


Who needs guns?

Ok, I know people in the US like to knock the French, but they did resist the Germans.  I’m not sure how similar other resistance and partisan groups armed themselves, but this turned up while doing research to learn more about the Maquis and FFI after watching Un Village Française

The following is from this page

 Everyday tools, turned weapons

PictureAmerican OSS and British SOE agents familiar with popular british weapons like the sten, helped train the french forces of interieur (more organized french offensive), as well as the parisians of the french resistance. Fast learners, the french took their battle to the streets no official contact just some slam bam and run attacks here in their, lowering the enemy moral, and making them more hesitant. Guns weren’t the only weapons the maquis used everyday people took up what they knew, wood axes, kitchen knives and even walking sticks became weapons. The ruthless Vichy helped Germans track down more jewish and communist citizens, so you can say they was a little extra incentive to band together and take back what was rightfully theirs. Brothers, Sisters, husbands and wives, neighbour v. neighbour, everyone with reason to pick up arms didn’t there was as much bloodshed in the city as german v. FFI as there was French v. French, weapons the same tools used just months before for hunting game and birds, used for freedom and liberation, the same used for murder and oppression. Weapons of vichy was there hope that one day this will as be over, that you will just wake up and all it was, was a bad bad dream, one word Hope, hope in their hearts, and a rifle in his hand, and a man or woman, is undefeatable, for no task big or small will stop him(or her), or his(her) dream from becoming a reality

Anyway, despite what gun nuts would like to promote, resistance was not limited by a lack of weaponry.  And having weapons also didn’t guarantee success.

Just ask the Germans!


Un village français series 6 DVDs releasing in October!

Amazon France has the release date as 28th of October.  No product data available about this release.Un village français

It seems that there are a couple of networks that have run this series in the past with subtitles: TV5Monde and Mhz ran (runs?) the series in French in Quebec. it’s been officially released in Germany and Sweden (besides France). This series is unofficially on Youtube as well.

I’m sort of surprised that this hasn’t made it to a larger audience.  It’s on a couple lot of lists of “must see” French TV. It is probably the best of the lot (with Engrenages/Spiral coming in a close second).  I mentioned Aleesandra Stanley’s New York Times Article: The Elusive Pleasures of French TV Series– ‘Spiral’ and 3 Other French Shows Worth Seeking Out in another post.

IOffer has copies of this show with subtitles, but I would not suggest doing that as the copies are not “official”. I would guess that they are most definitely bootlegs.  On the other hand, it has long been a gripe with me that the rightsholders do not do their best to make sure a popular programme like this sees the type of release it deserves: both on broadcast and DVD sales.
There is at least an Australian version of series 1 that was released on 11 March 2015. It’s a region 4 release.  Unfortunately, it only appears to be the first series at this time.

Anyway, there is at least one more series to deal with the aftermath of the war since this series deals with the liberation of France.  This series appears to start with an announcement that Paris has been liberated.  I can tell that things will get messy  from the part of the first episode I watched (collabos and resistance will spar it out in post-War France).UVF 5a Actually, a lot of things are going to get tied together in this series, which means that you need to watch the whole thing to have some idea of what is going on.

Alas, the ending of Series 5 may end up being is one of those things that you have to use your imagination.  My vote is that Müller made sure the Maquisards received a standing ovation from his troops before machinegunning them (I hope that’s not too much of a spoiler).  The picture here is a clue to what was happening.

(Yes, I thought about posting a clip of the ending, but that would really spoil it for you.  I’m hoping I have not given too much of a spoiler as is.
I also edited this to get a better version of the ending scene.)

Plus d’un village français Saison 6

I was going to do the title in Franglais (e.g., More un village français Season 6), but thought better of it. Anyway, here are the teaser trailers for the series.   These trailers give you a good idea of what a compelling series this is:

This series looks really good, but people in France have only seen the first half of season 6 (and 7 is supposedly in the pipeline as well).  No hope for the DVDs coming out yet.

Pas encore!