Les Choristes, the biggest hit of the French box office in 2004, is largely inspired by a film that preceded it, entitled La Cage aux rossignols, and released in 1945.
Les Choristes marked the year 2004 by bringing together 8.58 million French people in the cinema, and the following year by winning the César for Best Film Music for Bruno Coulais and Best Sound while being nominated for the Oscars for Best Film stranger and Best song with See on your way.
But did you know that this is a remake of a French film?
Les Choristes is very much inspired by La Cage aux rossignols with the actor Noël-Noël, a film released on September 6, 1945 and directed by Jean Dréville. We find the same proper names as in the 2004 film, with the exception of Morange (Jean-Baptiste Maunier), who was called “Laugier” at the time. The song The night is also present in both feature films.
Some scenes are repeated as they are, such as the moment when Mr. Rachin asks a student how Marshal Ney died, and Clément Mathieu discreetly gives the child a clue by miming a gun (Ney having been shot):
Or like when Mathieu left, because we already find in the 1945 film the moving scene of the students throwing words from the windows of the center to say goodbye to their supervisor:
There are, however, some significant differences. If Les Choristes opens with the discussion between Pépineau and Morange and the discovery of the diary of their former pawn Clément Mathieu, a third of La Cage aux rossignols is devoted to Mathieu’s life after leaving the educational center.
The latter did write an account of his year at the center, but it was inadvertently published in a newspaper and it is through his girlfriend, who reads the extracts of his story in the newspaper, that we learn about it via flashbacks.
A reworked remake, therefore, for two successful films. Because if Les Choristes became the biggest success of the French box office in 2004, La Cage aux rossignols does not have to be ashamed of its 5.08 million tickets sold at the time of its release. It had also benefited from a theatrical release … in 2004!
The director of Les Choristes, Christophe Barratier, will come full circle by participating in the DVD bonuses of La Cage aux rossignols by interviewing Roger Krebs, former member of the Petits chanteurs à la Croix de Bois who played the pupil Laugier in the 1945 film.