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 See upon your path

Children forgotten and lost

Give them your hand

To lead them

To other tomorrows.

America, present day. Wildly successful orchestra conductor Pierre Morhange is called back to France for his mother's funeral, and is visited by Pépinot, his one-time classmate. He's brought a photograph of their school years, and the diary that their teacher kept.

Rewind back to 1949. Clément Mathieu, a failed musician, accepts a post at 'Fond de l'Etang' ('Rock Bottom'), a school for delinquent boys. Horrified both by their behaviour and the brutally repressive methods of headmaster Rachin, he begins to teach his class music as a way to get their attention. It... doesn't all go according to plan.

Les Choristes provides examples of:

  • Arc Words: Ne Jamais Dire Jamais (Never Say Never)
  • Bawdy Song: Mondain loves these.
  • Bishonen: Jean Baptiste Maunier playing Morhange
    • And if you saw pictures of him now, even more so
  • Bittersweet Ending: When the school burns down, Mathieu is out of a job, having recently been told the woman he loves is with another man (who the viewer is told leaves her shortly afterwards). The only thing stopping it from being a total Downer is the audience's knowledge of Morhange's future and the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming that occurs in the last few moments.
  • Cast the Expert: Jean Baptiste Maunier, who played Pierre Morhange, was a member of the Real Life choir Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc.
  • Catch Phrase: "Action-Reaction"
  • Chekhov's Gun: "My parents are coming for me on Saturday."
    • The boy who wanted to become a hot-air balloon pilot when he grew up.
  • Cherubic Choir
  • Disappeared Dad: Morhange's.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: One of the key themes is how the boys are used to a cycle of them doing something bad, and regardless of the punishment are beaten by Mr Rachin, sent to the cell and forced to clean the school.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mouton
  • For the Evulz: Mondain
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Pépinot
  • Humiliation Conga: Arguably what happens to Mathieu
  • Ironic Echo: "I am Clément Mathieu, a musician and each night I compose for [the children]." becomes "I am Clément Mathieu, a failed musician; a surveillant without employment."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: At the middle of the movie, as the students behaviour is improving and the success of Mathieu's methods become apparent, Rachin at first seems to mellow in his harshness and become kinder, playing football with the students he previously despised. Towards the end of the film however, as he takes credit for Mathieu's work and then fires him for breaking the school rules by taking the boys out for a picnic, even though he saved their lives from the fire, it turns out that he's still the same bastard he was before.
  • Jerkass Facade: Morhange tries to pull one of these. Mathieu isn't impressed.
  • La Résistance: Thanks to Rachin banning the choir, Mathieu jokingly calls them this after they practice in private.
  • Meaningful Name: The only teacher who tries to help/forgive/accept the boys at the school has a name that means 'merciful' (Clément Mathieu).
    • Rachin's name could be derived from the verb "cracher", to spit.
      • Morhange, referring to how Mr Régent called him "The face of an angel, but the mind of the devil".
  • Old Friend
  • Parental Abandonment: Morhange due to his difficult behaviour and that his single mother can't make ends meet and has to constantly work.
  • Parental Substitute: Mathieu to Pépinot

 Violette: You haven't got any children?

Mathieu: No. Well, I have 60.

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