A-Z French film titles

le corbeau, a level french

not yet available, films and books available for sale below

french a level, cinema, essay, summary

Resources have been written with the needs of busy teachers in mind. They are available:

  • to download (online version)
  • to receive on CD with access to the online version also
  • to receive as a VLE version (moodle, firefox etc) with access to the online version also

Viewing entertainment material that has been produced in conditions of censorship and for an audience being subdued by a foreign occupying force  feels like quite a surreptitious activity.   Clouzot who went on to direct classics of French cinema such as Quai des Brumes was working under very constrained conditions when he made this film noir.      At the end of the war he was condemned by both sides for the content of the film and had to be rescued from a very precarious position by fellow artists.

There is no sign that a war is going on at all in the film; no mention of occupying forces or food shortages.  What is going on is that people start to receive poison pen letters from a "corbeau", the name for a writer of such messages.   The main recipient is a somewhat mysterious doctor Rémy Germain who is accused both of conducting an affaire with a married woman and of carrying out illegal abortions. 

The situation escalates with a patient at the hospital committing suicide when he receives a letter saying his cancer is terminal.   An incredibly tense situation develops with the population of the small town finally pursuing a suspect through the town;   uncertainty reigns until the very end.    The film depicts a society losing its stability and ethical code hence the antagonism  of all sides of the political spectrum.

With its noir filming and simmering semi-erotic scenes alongside the evolving tension this film is fascinating to watch for a number of reasons;  it is one François Truffaut watched in wartime as a young cinéphile.



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  • Detailed summary of film with verbs gapped (infinitives given)
  • Comprehensive questions on each scene
  • Character study guide with wide range of adjectives


  • Multi-tense practice tool
  • A-factor builds in practice of more complex structures
  • Direct-indirect speech exercise encourages reported speech


  • Matching quotations to themes to prepare for paragraphing
  • Essay planning guide including template
  • Essay plan and sample essay


  • Examplar scenes analysed
  • Scene analysis template


Mark schemes are provided for:

  • the gapped summary
  • character guide
  • multi-tense exercise
  • A-factor
  • direct-indirect speech exercise
  • themes exercise

Answers are NOT given for the questions which are intended to elicit an individual response.


English subtitles

French version no subtitles (interviews on making of film)

            coming soon, Manchester film guide