To Be and to Have (Etre et Avoir)

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 59

liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,977


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.1/5

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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.


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

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (22)

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

Aug 7, 2004

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

Jan 30, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

To Be and to Have is a movie every teacher should see, and every parent, too.

Jan 23, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4

At times, it feels as stultifying as watching paint dry, without the recompense of sniffing fumes.

Jan 23, 2004 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

Watchful viewers -- particularly those with fond memories of a favorite teacher -- will be deeply moved by this film.

Nov 21, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Amounts to a rare gift and an opportunity to appreciate the end of an era.

Nov 21, 2003

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


Apparently there was a lot of talk about the teacher and whether he was all that he appears to be which is seemingly the perfect teacher. This film brings out all the warm feelings of nostalgia for those early days of learning with the first teachers that we loved. Incredibly sweet.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

A little cute & touching documentary

Arash Xak
Arash Xak

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.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

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]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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