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To Be and to Have (Etre et Avoir)

To Be and to Have (Etre et Avoir) (2003)



Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 58
Fresh: 56 | Rotten: 2

A small, sensitive, and moving portrait of a teacher and his students.


Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 1

A small, sensitive, and moving portrait of a teacher and his students.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 5,858

My Rating

Movie Info

A chronicle which follows an academic year in the lives of twelve school kids, ages 4-10, who are taught every subject, from math to gym, by one single dedicated teacher, Georges Lopez.

May 1, 2008


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All Critics (65) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (56) | Rotten (2) | DVD (8)

It demonstrates without overreaching what an actual teacher can do to shape lives.

August 7, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A counterintuitive film about a small schoolhouse in rural France, To Be and to Have gets its punch from simple scenes and conversations.

January 30, 2004 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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To Be and to Have is a movie every teacher should see, and every parent, too.

January 23, 2004
Philadelphia Inquirer
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At times, it feels as stultifying as watching paint dry, without the recompense of sniffing fumes.

January 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
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Watchful viewers -- particularly those with fond memories of a favorite teacher -- will be deeply moved by this film.

November 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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Amounts to a rare gift and an opportunity to appreciate the end of an era.

November 21, 2003
Washington Post
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The most unvarnished cinematic portrait of childhood I've ever seen.

May 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

One of those rare movies that works as a humbling experience.

June 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Bee

This is a film that all aspiring teachers should see, as well as veteran teachers who might have lost track of what teaching is all about.

May 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

As touching as Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), this is an excellent companion to Spellbound, another beguiling documentary about children.

April 20, 2004 Full Review Source:

The American school system would do well to take a page from Mr. Lopez's slow-but-steady curriculum.

March 10, 2004 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

It isn't just an ode to teaching -- it's a lesson in growing up.

February 13, 2004
Fresno Bee

Auditing a class has never been more fun.

February 13, 2004 Full Review Source:

More often than not you may find yourself unexpectedly smiling.

February 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

(Lopez's) teaching is simply one of the purest expressions of love I've ever seen on film.

January 15, 2004 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Philibert unobtrusively captures the priceless looks of concentration and confusion that come from a total unawareness of the camera's presence.

January 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Sweet, ultimately poignant portrait of a year in the life of a one-room school in evocative, observant portrait.

January 3, 2004 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Reveals... the teacher's-and the director's-love for the children and an aching nostalgia for a way of life that's on its way out...

December 22, 2003 Full Review Source:

In its discussion of the natural, essential roles of learning and teaching in life, Ętre et Avoir is an elegantly shot, eloquently stated, first-class report.

December 1, 2003
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

A testament to the scary responsibility of primary education, and a powerful tribute to the nobility and unselfishness -- and vital importance -- of the teaching profession.

November 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Audience Reviews for To Be and to Have (Etre et Avoir)

This is a very sweet and gentle documentary. A window into the lives of a very normal but lovely group of kids and their teacher. It's better than it sounds, honestly!
September 25, 2009

Super Reviewer

A sweet look at a teacher in a small French town and the children he teaches. We watch as he teaches them and they grow up and finally leave. It is moving and sad. We learn about the children and get to know them in a piece of voyeuristic brilliance.
September 14, 2006

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"To Be and To Have" is a documentary that focuses on Georges Lopez who has been teaching at the same one-room schoolhouse in rural France for the last 20 years(very quaint by the way) and is about a year away from retirement. He teaches a group of elementary school students of various ages.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]But here's my question: why is there a documentary about this particular teacher and this classroom? What is so special about it? Lopez apparently does an excellent job but that is what all teachers should be doing anyway, right? (We never see the positive effect that this teacher might have had on his past students.) Another clue lies in the rural setting. It is implied that a quality education can improve the children's lives over those of their parents but all people need a quality education, especially in a democracy. And yes, the children are adorable but the movie exploits that simply for entertainment value.[/font]
July 5, 2005
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Sein und Haben (DE)
  • Ętre Et Avoir (UK)
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