Back to School

Rentrée des classes

Jacques Rozier, France, 1955


On the way to school in his Provencal village, René throws his backpack into the river to win a bet against one of his friends. Instead of continuing on his way to school with the others, he leaves them behind to go and find his backpack, down under the bridge. The fictitious world of the film stops for a few moments allowing it to become purely descriptive and meditative – Jacques Rozier films the sensations that René experiences, allowing the viewer to share the character’s experience by way of cinematic means. 

The character experiences several sensations. The sensation of sunlight passing through the leaves, then passing over the child and the landscape, and other visual sensations such as the dragonflies streaking across the frame and the snake, skittering across the surface of the water. Tactile sensations, to which the boy bears witness – the coldness of the water, legs charging through tall grass, the resistance of his body against the current as he crosses the river. Sound sensations include the chittering of crickets, sharp, pointed bird calls, and the running water.  Added to the mix is Rozier’s choice of music which evokes a sense of rekindled liberty, and joyous lyricism.