100 French Movie Terms & Expressions 🎬

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Lists of French Movie Vocabulary and expressions + translation “le cinéma” ≠ “le théâtre” + to watch (regarder, voir…) + how to describe a movie in French…

How do You Say Movie in French?

The French translation for movie is “un film”.
“Movies” in the plural can either be “des films” when referring to several movies, or “le cinéma” when referring to going to the movies, for example : aller au cinéma.

How to say To Watch a Movie in French – Voir or Regarder?

In French, the irregular French verb “voir” means to see in English : it’s a reflex.

On the contrary, the French verb “regarder” means to watch in English: it’s a decision, an intention to carefully look at something.

The difference is made simple with this example: “I didn’t mean to watch, but I saw”…

Unfortunately, as it’s often the case, translating doesn’t always work. It’s particularly true when it comes to watching a movie, or watching TV…

  1. To say to watch a movie in French, we typically use the verb “voir”.
    Tu as vu ce film? Oui, je l’ai déjà vu.
    Did you see that movie? Yes, I already saw it.
  2. However for TV, we tend to use the French verb “regarder” to say to watch TV.
    Tu regardes souvent la télé ?
    Do you often watch TV?
  3. To say to go watch a movie in the theatres, we say “aller au cinéma”
    Hier soir, on est allés au ciné voir le dernier James Bond.
    Yesterday evening, we went to the movies to watch the latest James Bond.

21 French Movie Terms

  1. faire un film – to make a movie
  2. tourner un film – to shoot a movie
  3. jouer dans un film – to play in a movie
  4. un long-métrage – a feature-length film
  5. un court-métrage – a short
  6. un film en version originale /un film en VO – non-French speaking movie with original audio track and subtitles (not subbed)
  7. un film sous-titré – movie with subtitles
  8. un film doublé – dubbed movie
  9. une société cinématographique – a film company / studio
  10. un plateau de tournage – a film set
  11. un plan, une prise de vue – a shot
  12. une caméra – a movie camera (watch out, “un appareil photo” is a picture camera)
  13. une pellicule – film
  14. une bobine – film reel
  15. un écran – a screen
  16. un scénario – a screenplay
  17. une projection – a viewing
  18. une avant-première – a film preview
  19. une bande-annonce – a trailer
  20. le générique – credits
  21. les effets spéciaux – special effects
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French Movie Vocabulary – Film Crew

  1. un écrivain – writer
  2. un producteur – producer
  3. une huile – a big studio executive (movie slang)
  4. un ponte – a mogul (movie slang)
  5. un metteur en scène / un réalisateur – director
  6. un monteur – editor
  7. un cinéaste – film maker
  8. un perchiste – boom operator
  9. un opérateur, un cadreur – camera operator
  10. un ingénieur du son – sound engineer
  11. un technicien – film crewman
  12. un maquilleur – make-up artist
  13. un accessoiriste – prop man
  14. un éclairagiste – light crewman
  15. un acteur, une actrice – actor
  16. un comédien, une comédienne – actor
  17. une vedette – a star
  18. une co-star – co-star
  19. un cascadeur – stuntman
  20. un remplaçant – an understudy, stand-in actor
  21. un double – body double
  22. un figurant – an extra
  23. une ouvreuse – an usherette

6 French Movie Expressions

  1. Action ! Silence, on tourne ! – Action, quiet Everybody, camera!
  2. Moteur ! – Rolling!
  3. Coupez! – Cut
  4. Le grand écran – cinema
  5. une salle obscure – a dark theater
  6. Le septième art – cinema

25 French Movie Types

  1. un film – a movie (for info, a play is “une pièce de théâtre)
  2. une comédie – a comedy
  3. une comédie musicale – a musical (comic or not…)
  4. un documentaire – a documentary
  5. un drame – a drama
  6. un film d’action – an action movie
  7. un film d’aventures – an adventure movie
  8. un film d’espionnage – a spy movie
  9. un film de cape et d’épée – a swashbuckler
  10. un film d’horreur – a horror movie
  11. un film de science-fiction – a science fiction movie
  12. un western – a western
  13. un western à l’italienne – a spaghetti western
  14. un film d’art et d’essai – an art-house film
  15. un film catastrophe – a disaster movie
  16. une épopée fantastique – a heroic fantasy film
  17. un film historique – a period movie
  18. un film de guerre – a war movie
  19. un dessin animé – a cartoon
  20. un film d’animation – a cartoon, animation movie
  21. une histoire d’amour – a love story
  22. un film romantique – romance movie
  23. une adaptation, un “remake” – a remake
  24. un film pornographique – porn movie
  25. un film erotique – erotic movie
poster with french movie phrases

French Movie Ratings

  1. un film tous publics – a film for everybody
  2. un film déconseillé pour les moins de 15 ans – PG movie
  3. un film interdit au moins de… 17 ans – an NC17 rated movie
  4. un film X – X film, for adults

How to Comment About Movies in French

6 Positive comments

  1. Il est super ce film / cet acteur / ce metteur-en-scène – what a great movie / actor / director
  2. Je l’ai adoré – I loved it
  3. Ce film, c’est de la balle – awesome movie (slang)
  4. C’est un film à grand succès – a blockbuster / a big hit
  5. Ce film a battu tous les records – this movie broke all records / a smash hit
  6. Cet acteur a un jeu magnifique – the acting of this actor is wonderful

7 Negative comments

  1. Il est nul ce film / cet acteur / ce metteur-en-scène – what a bad movie / actor / director
  2. Je l’ai détesté – I hated it
  3. Ce film, c’est de la daube – this is a terrible movie (slang)
  4. C’est un navet – it’s a bad movie (idiom: un navet is a turnip!)
  5. C’est un flop – it flopped (at the box-office)
  6. Ça a fait un bide complet – it’s a complete failure
  7. Cet acteur joue comme un pied – this actor has a terrible acting [lit: plays like a foot!]

17 Phrases to Describe a Movie in French

  1. Ce film parle de – this movie is about
  2. Il s’agit de – it’s about
  3. le film raconte l’histoire de – the film tells the story of
  4. le film est à propos de – the movie is about
  5. Le film est basé sur – the movie is based on
  6. l’histoire se déroule en + time – the story takes place in
  7. Au début, au commencement du film – at the beginning of the movie
  8. Au milieu du film – in the middle of the movie
  9. À la fin du film – at the end of the movie
  10. Au bout d’un moment – after a while
  11. On se rend compte que, on réalise que – we realize that
  12. On comprend que – we understand that
  13. Le personnage principal – the main character
  14. Le héros, l’héroïne – the hero / heroine
  15. Qu’est-ce que tu en as pensé – what did you think about it ?
  16. Moi, j’ai trouvé que – As far as I’m concerned, I thought…
  17. Je n’ai rien compris – I didn’t understand anything!

Looking for even more French / English Movie vocabulary? Check this site.

Now, what about learning how to study French with French movies: I have developed a unique method to help you improve your French with movies – check it out. You may also enjoy my list of 10 easy to understand French movies (regularly updated… so modern French movies ;-)

If you enjoy learning French in context, check out French Today’s downloadable French audiobooks: French Today’s bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation. 

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 23+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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