The world sometimes seems divided into two camps: those who recall their teenage years as having been an exhilarating dream, and those who remember them as having been an infernal, nightmarish hell. So it might do to describe Passe ton bac d’abord… [Graduate First… / Pass Your Bac First…] as Maurice Pialat’s “The Best Years of Our Lives”, while bearing in mind all that such a description might suggest: an unsparing portrait of the era when the words ‘sixteen candles’ still might have first conjured the image of flames.
A group of young actors including several local unknowns – Philippe Marlaud, Bernard Tronczyk, Patrick Lepczynski, and Sabine Haudepin (once the little girl of Truffaut’s Jules et Jim), among others – make up the cluster of friends adrift beneath the twilight of their school years. There’s drama, violence, and pot-induced laughs – group holidays, indiscriminate sex, advances from teachers twenty-five years their seniors, attempted moves to Paris, and few prospects of passing the bac, the final set of exams French students take before embarking into the world to… do what?
Marking the last work of Pialat’s turbulent cycle of films made in the 1970s, Passe ton bac d’abord… is the brilliant spiritual sequel to the great filmmaker’s feature-debut L’Enfance-nue – with the action taking place in the same region as the earlier film, ten years on. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Pialat’s teenage drama in a beautiful new transfer for the first time on home video in the UK.