Clips and Lessons – Chocolat
Lesson for Chocolat
Topic for Conversation: How can we“preach good news to the poor…, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”? (Isaiah 61:1-2a and Luke 4:18-20)
Age group/intended group for discussion: Adults (Chocolat is rated PG-13 for a scene of sensuality and some violence.)
Time frame:45-60 minutes
Film (Title, year, director, availability –sources and formats):
- Director—Lasse Hallström
- Available from Netflix, Amazon, and others in DVD and Blu-ray
Scene(s) to use:
- Open the lesson by watching Chapter 1, in which the storyteller sets the scene. Stop when the church doors blow open. (about 4 minutes)
- Chapter 21 (about 6 minutes)—End when the credits begin.
Description of scene(s):
- Chapter 1 sets the scene and lets us see the main characters during a worship service. [NOTE: If you choose not to show this scene, you may wish to read the opening lines: “Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village in the French countryside, whose people believed in Tranquilité - Tranquility. If you lived in this village, you understood what was expected of you. You knew your place in the scheme of things. And if you happened to forget, someone would help remind you. In this village, if you saw something you weren't supposed to see, you learned to look the other way. If perchance your hopes had been disappointed, you learned never to ask for more. So through good times and bad, famine and feast, the villagers held fast to their traditions. Until, one winter day, a sly wind blew in from the North...”]
- Chapter 21 begins with Pere Henri’s Easter sermon. The scene moves outside to the spring festival at which the whole town celebrates. Next we see Josephine in her restaurant and finally the reunion of Roux with Vianne and Anouk.
How to set up clip viewing:
Begin by showing Chapter 1 or by reading the opening lines. The North Wind blows Vianne and her daughter Anouk into town. Vianne rents a shop from Armande and begins to scrub and clean the shop. The villagers are curious about what kind of shop she will open. Comte De Reynaud, the mayor and local nobleman, invites her to mass, but she declines. He is appalled to learn that she is opening a chocolate shop during Lent and that she has never been married. So begins a war of wills. The Comte uses innuendo and the power of his position in the town to try to run her off. Vianne uses her chocolates to revitalize a marriage, encourage a romance between to elderly citizens, rescues an abused wife, reconciles Armande with her daughter and grandson, and supports river gypsies who are rejected by the suspicious townspeople. Ultimately, though, everyone is transformed, even the Comte and Vianne.
View the clip (Chapter 21)
Theological conversation after viewing:
- How do the priest and Vianne “proclaim the year of the Lord”?
- Compare the town and the people at the beginning of the movie and at the end. What changes can you see?
- What difficulties arise when we stand for what is right?
- How has the church remembered/forgotten the command to love the alien? (Leviticus 19:34 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.) (Also think of the story of the Good Samaritan.)
- What are some problems (big or small) at school, at work, in your church, or in the community that need to be addressed? What risks would you take to challenge the problem?
- Who are some people, both inside and outside the church, who are seeking justice and reconciliation?