Posts Tagged With: Mathieu

Name Spot of the Week: La Haine

Scene from La Haine, from blogger.com

I’ve been watching a few french films of late, and there was one which really caught my attention. Yesterday I watched a film called La Haine, which is about life in the banlieu – basically the French equivalents of housing estates. In came out in the late 90s, several years before there were quite violent riots in France in 2005 – sparked by the accidental deaths of two teenagers whilst being chased by the police.

A few names from the film which stood out for me were:

Astérix (nickname)

Cassel (surname of one of the actors)

Choukri (actor)

Hubert – The t is silent when the French say this name, and for me that really makes me reconsider the name.

Mathieu (director)

Magimel (surname of one of the actors)

Médard

Rywka  (actress)

Saïd

Vincent ‘Vinz’

Other names vaguely related to the film are:

Cécile – Half sister of Vincent Cassel. He played one of the main characters.

Chanteloupe – The majority of the filming took place in an area called Chanteloupe-les-Vignes.

Deva and Léonie – The name of Vincent Cassel’s daughters. He played one of the main characters.

Makome – His death helped inspire the film.

Elsewhere, the frontman for Spandau Ballet, Gary Kemp, recently welcomed his fourth son: Rex Albert. He joins brothers Finlay Munro, Milo Wolf and Kit Frank.

 

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Les Choristes

Snapshot from the film Les Choristes. Mathieu is conducting, with Pépinot sitting on the desk behind him, from grouchoreviews.com

Les Choristes is a modern classic film from France, released in 2004, depicting the tale of a problem-child all-male boarding school. It’s an adaptation of the film A Cage of Nightingales (La Cage aux Rossignols) from 1945.

The basis of the story is that the widely successful orchestra conductor Pierre Morhange returns to France when his mother dies. With his old friend Pépinot, he reminiscences about his childhood inspirations through the pages of a diary kept by his old music teacher Clément Mathieu.  The film travels back to 1949, when a young Pierre is the badly behaved son of a single mother. He attends a boarding school Fond de L’Etang (roughly translates to rock bottom), which is for difficult boys. The new teacher, Mathieu, decides to assemble a choir, which leads to the discovery of Pierre’s musical talents and a transformation in the boys behaviours.

There are so many lovely names associated with this film, despite many of the characters only being known by their surnames. Starting off with the music teacher, his name was Clément Mathieu. Both names have been used as first names, and I do believe that both names are also relatively popular in France at the moment.

The name Clément comes from the Late Latin name Clemens, which meant merciful or gentle. As for Mathieu, he’s the French form of the name Matthew, a name that means gift of God.

Another name from the teaching staff was Rachin, the name of the strict headmaster. Strictly speaking, it’s his surname, but there are plenty of surnames used in the film which have potential: Boniface, Pépinot and Corbin. My favourite character was Pépinot – the t is silent – who was the youngest boy at the school. He would wait by the gates every Saturday for his father, but his father would never turn up. Near the end of the film Mathieu is fired and when he leaves Pépinot runs after him and asks to go with him. Eventually Mathieu relents, and the two board a bus together. The touching part? This all happened on a Saturday.

As for Pierre, his mother was called Violette. And she’s not the only Violette associated with the film, and actress named Violette played one of Rachin’s daughters. His second daughter was played by a Lena, and his wife was played by a Marielle.

Other names of actors from the film:

Armen

People from Armenia are known as Armens, thus some have suggested that this name means son of Armenia. Taking this further, the name Armenia has been theorised to have derived from the name Aram, which means excellence in it’s Armenian capacity. The exact origins of the name Armenia makes this only one of many theories, however.

Didier

I know of two brothers named Didier and Dieudonne. The name Didier is the French form of the name Desiderio, which means longing, desire.

Fabrice

This name derives from the Latin word faber, which means craftsman. It is worth noting that the name Brice is not related, it instead means speckled.

Simonet

The real surname of the lad who played Pépinot, who was credited as Maxence Perrin. His father, Jacques Perrin, played the adult Pierre in the film. Maxence’s brothers are called Mathieu and Lancelot and Maxence’s cousin, Christophe, directed the film.

Theodule

There is a Spanish name Téodule, which comes from the name Theodulus. It has the meaning of slave of God. Presumeably, therefore, Theodule is the French interpretation of the name.

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Not too French

Christophe Maé, from christophe-mae.fr

We kicked the week off looking at a very modern sounding French sibset, so it seems fitting to return to the topic of French names to end the week. Not French words, just French names. Specifically French names that are not too French, like Thibault is. I love the name Thibault, but chances are that you haven’t a clue how to say him, and neither will the majority of the English-speaking population. He’s likely too French for those who don’t have a grasp of the language. If you’re still musing about how to say Thibault, it’s tee-bo.

At the other end of the spectrum is the second most popular girls name in England&Wales: Sophie – the French form of Sophia. And I recently met a Manon/Matisse sibset at a very British cricket club. Other French forms of popular English names include:

Alexandre

Ambre

Bastien (short form of Sébastien)

Christophe

Émilie

Guillaume

Mathieu

Mathilde

But it’s the middle ground of popularity we’re looking at. Something distinctly French. Like Clement. Meilleur Prénoms put him at #19 in 2009 for France. You may have heard Clementine mentioned more and more often, but it’s the masculine name which has really taken off in France of late. On the same list, Clemence ranked at #34 for girls.

Another male name example is Jules. The only Jules I know who aren’t Julians are French. French singer Christophe Maé and his partner Nadège welcomed a son named Jules in 2008. We seem to spell it differently here in Britain as British chef Jamie Oliver is married to a Juliette ‘Jools’ and we also have the widely popular Jools Holland here in Britain, who was born Julian Miles. Jools Miles sounds quintessentially jazz, doesn’t it?

The name Enzo is hugely popular in France, too. I’ve seen people call him the male equivalent of called your child Porsche. The name reportedly became popular in France following Zinedine Zidane using it for his son. Yes, the Zinedine Zidane who famously headbutted an Italian player in the 2006 World Cup final. Enzo is a somewhat controversial name in France, given that it’s Italian, not French. Moreover, the Italian short form of Vincenzo and Lorenzo. Enzo is a zippy little name, especially good if you think Ezra is going to the girls – a name Abby recently featured as a re-run.

Another zippy short name popular in Frenchy-land is Axel. To English ears, this may sound like a somewhat rugged name – and that may add to his charm for you. My other favourite French male name beginning with an A is Aurelian, and we can’t forget to mention Rémi. Yes, he has an accent but I’ve seen plenty parents forgoe this. Infact whilst on the subject of accents, I have a friend named Chloé because her Dad became mixed up when he went to register her – she should be a Chloë.

One of the more popular female names in France right now is Clara – currently at #201 in England&Wales, and not strictly a French name per se. A very French invention cooking up a storm in France is Lilou. Yes, I love Lilou, she’s like a Lily/Lucy smoosh that just seems to work. In a similar vein, the French also love Luna, or their slight variant spelling of Louna. They also recognise the rocking-awesomenous of Lou.

Romain and Romane are popular for boys and girls, respectively; Same goes for Leo and Leonie; Valentin and Valentine. Whilst we may consider Agatha still slightly aged for our babes, the French are embracing their version: Agathe. Another A name they love is Amandine: their version of the once popular name Amanda. There’s also Amine for the lads which has origins in Arabic, and means truthful. For me, I think of the organic compounds known as Amines, but that’s by-the-by. The French and Dutch variation of Anna is also popular: Anouk.

Finally, there’s the Mae– group of names to consider: Maëlys;Maëlle;Maeva;Maeline; Maelie. They all sound distinctly French, but the pronunciation may not come naturally to you. For Maëlys, it’s mah-el-EES; for Maëlle, it’s mah-el.

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