Story summary by klx14649


									Story summary:
When Vianne and her daughter, Anouk,
arrive in the tranquil French village in the
winter of 1959, nobody could have
imagined the impact they would have on the
community. Vianne opens a very unusual
chocolate shop across the square from the
church. The resident mayor of the town is
shocked that Vianne is tempting the local
townspeople with her delicacies,
particularly during the time of lent, and is
determined that he will force her to leave.

With the arrival of a group of people who live on the river, the mayor begins a
„morality drive‟ to rid the town of these unwelcome visitors. The mayor has his own
problems, keeping secret from the people the news that his wife has left him; trying to
make presentable the café owner whose wife has left him because of his ill treatment;
and writing/correcting the sermons of the new priest.

The final confrontation and „release‟ of the townsfolk from their legalism brings the
film to a satisfying conclusion. The film is truly a fable in that there are many layers
of understanding to be gleaned from it as we are confronted with many issues relevant
to our own contemporary experience of life.

Consideration of issues raised in the film:

   1. Character portraits
   Consider each of the following characters. Describe what you like/dislike about
   each one‟s attitude towards life and others. Which character‟s attitude and actions
   most appeals to you? Why?

                              The Mayor (Reynaud)
                              Armande (Old woman)

2. Exclusion/Prejudice/Labelling
Vianne is the outsider. She doesn‟t attend church and is a single, unmarried mother.
Roux and his „river boat people‟ are outsiders, the townspeople are encouraged to
exclude them from shops and other services.

Discuss why the locals found it so difficult to embrace Vianne and the boat people.

What groups in Australian society today might be considered „outsiders‟?

It is a very human temptation to define other people by our own standards as either
„in‟ or „out‟, that is, included or excluded, embraced or rejected. The saying „Birds of
a feather flock together‟ underscores the idea that in our experience there are those
that belong and those that do not.

Think of the Scotch community, describe the „standards‟ or expectations that
contribute to a boundary between those included and those excluded.

Think of your own circle of friends, describe the „standards‟ or expectations that
contribute to a boundary between those included and those excluded.

Describe some of the applied labels that excluded people are forced to live with.

There are those who will always be labeled by some as „outsiders‟. How do you
respond to this kind of labeling in our society?

In what ways might it be helpful to have clearly defined boundaries that indicate the
difference between those included and those excluded?

In what ways can such boundaries and the labels often associated with them be
unhelpful and even harmful?

“We can‟t go on measuring goodness by what we don‟t do, by what we resist or who
we exclude. Here‟s what I think…. I think we measure goodness by what we
embrace, by what we create and who we include.”

Reflect on the following stories in the Biblical narrative that deal with exclusion,
prejudice and labeling. Discuss what each passage has to say about these issues.
Luke 8:42b-48; Luke 7:36-50; Mark 7:24-30.

3. Release
At the end of the film, the narrator describes the townsfolk as feeling „released,
uplifted in spirit.‟ Throughout the film many characters were „released‟. Consider
the following characters, discuss the factors that had them entrapped, how they were
„released‟ and the impact of their release:
                               The priest and the mayor
                               Vianne and her mother (ashes)
                               The Mayor and tradition
                               Armande and her health

What things can entrap people today? How can release be achieved?

4. The Role of the Church
The church is the embodiment of Christ‟s ministry – the „body of Christ‟. Yet in the
film, the church offers nothing to Vianne (unless she is prepared to attend the church)
except hostility, judgment and even exclusion, In contrast, it is Vianne‟s chocolaterie
that reaches out to the community, offering a place of welcome and hospitality, a
refuge for hurting people, a place of hope and healing, solace and understanding, and
an opportunity to build bridges of reconciliation between people. Even Vianne‟s
ability to discern people‟s favourite chocolate relates to „knowing the heart‟ of people.

Do you think the church has a continuing role/place in modern society? If so,
describe what you think this role or place is in society.

How do you think Australians generally perceive the church? Attempt to explain how
has this perception has evolved?

In your experience have you known the church to express any of the qualities
attributed to Vianne‟s chocolaterie in the film? Provide examples if you can.

The actions and attitude of Christ, in his time on earth as a man, in many ways
mirrored the activity of Vianne and her chocolate shop. Can you think of any
See the following Bible passages; Matt. 9:9-13; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 5:12-13; Luke
7:36-50; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 17:11-19.

If the church‟s role is to be the „embodiment of Christ‟s ministry‟ how has/does it
attempt to fulfill this role today? What are some of the factors (both within and
outside the church) that tend to work against the fulfillment of this role?

How do you feel about the continuing, traditional connection between the church and
Scotch College? How do you think the church might perceive its role within the
school? How is this connection evident within the school program? What
contribution do you think this connection might make to the development of students?


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