Montreal: National Film Board of Canada
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GEORGE AND ROSEMARY
THE BIG SNIT
THE SAND CASTLE
THE CAT CAME BACK
min. 17 sec.)
A mysterious film with ballet-like movement accompanied by the grandeur of symphonic sound, ZEA will intrigue and puzzle your students. Undeniably beautiful, it presents real challenge to the EFL/ESL teacher. Since it lacks both storyline and verbal language, it must be approached for the aural and visual stimulation it brings to your students. Following are a few suggestions to get you started.
Students should have pens and paper at the ready before "START" is pushed on the VCR. This is a guessing game without the $64,000 prize. But there will be a payoff in interest! Get your students to watch attentively and as soon as they identify the mystery object in the film, to write its name on a piece of paper and their own name on the blackboard. After the viewing, review their answers in order and ask them for clues and reasons that led to their conclusions. Even "wrong" answers arc valid examples of ZEA offers great opportunities for building lists of descriptive words, for speculation (What might your guess have been, and how would the mood have altered if the film had been accompanied by synthesizer, rock, or calliope music?) It opens the way to discuss scale, distortion, and perception.
* Divide the class into small group. Each group selects a common object such as an apple, a shoe, or a comb. Students prepare a list of descriptive words for the object viewed from close-up, where it's never visible as a whole. After a given time, each group leader in turn describes the characteristics of her or his group's object, while the other groups try to guess what it is.
AND ROSEMARY (8 min. 48 sec.)
A romantic comedy about two aging neighbours, GEORGE AND ROSEMARY is Whimsy at its best. WHimsy, already a new word for your students to learn! But there is more in this delightful tale. Enough to touch even adolescents with the pain and poignancy involved in taking those first tentative steps in relationship building.
The film is really quite easy to follow, even by viewers with limited listening comprehension. Of course there will be new words and expressions to learn, such as passion and relative happiness, but these need not be introduced before the viewing.
TEXT FOR GEORGE
DELIVERY ( 7 min. 7 sec.)
This is not your ordinary simple story! Why didn't Ralph clean the snow off the front steps when his wife Alice told him to? If he hadn't ignored her request it might well have turned out to be another humdrum day. But then, there'd be no SPECIAL DELIVERY! This sophisticated Academy Award winner looks like a mystery and sounds like a soap opera. One misadventure leads to another, and don't expect a conventional conclusion! But please preview it first. It may be too difficult, sophisticated, or even offensive to some of your students!
A little straightforward vocabulary preparation is advisable. But there are injury ways to introduce new words and they're not necessarily boring. As you read over the transcript you'll probably note words like stupor, reflex, misapprehension, bail, coroner, Surmised, wrath, and remorse. Look at some of the phrases and expressions such as A Problem struck him! and to steady his nerves. Let your students draw a new phrase or word front a hat the week before you show SPECIAL DELIVERY. The following week, before the viewing, they Ought each use their "prize" vocabulary in a brief paragraph which explains its meaning.
When the video ends, a simple retelling of the story will quickly signal whether students understood it. If not, play it again immediately. It's a classic which stands up well to many viewings.
Ask students to re-use the phrase or word they drew from the hat, but this time specifically in a sentence related to the video.
* Retell the story using what ifs.
--What if Ralph had remembered his key when he went out to deliver the mail?
--What if Ralph's wife had an affair with the mailman?
--What if his wife, had not realized that the mailman was dead and had gone back home?
Above all, try to keep the "what ifs" 11LImorous! Working in pairs will give students the most practice in conversation. But sharing at least some of the stories with the whole class contributes to motivation and group spirit.
* Four students (female or male) play the roles of Ralph, the two policemen, and the magistrate. They improvise the sequence in which the policemen take Ralph into court to be charged. The policemen tell their story, Ralph tells his story (remember, he can't admit it was his own house), the magistrate asks questions, then lays charges and releases him on bail. Remember, this is a humorous story!
* Suppose that someone finds the mailman dead on Ralph's steps. journalists from the local paper interview Ralph and his wife. Four students take on the roles, and, working in groups, ask their classmates to help them prepare dialogue. Then they dramatize the situation.
* Students from other countries could be encouraged to discuss attitudes toward the police and the legal system in their homelands.
TEXT FOR SPECIAL DELIVERY
The misadventures of Ralph Phelps are told mostly with simple words except as noted previously. Three phrases not mentioned before are turn himself in, drop the subject and broken off with him.
Narrator: When Alice Phelps left home that day to go to her judo class, she told her husband Ralph to clean off the front walk before he left for work.
Alice: Is that ail right with you?
Narrator: But Ralph never did what his wife told him to do. When Ralph returned home there was a body lying on his front stairs. It was the mailman! He had obviously slipped on the ice that Ralph hadn't cleaned away, and broken his neck. Ralph, fearing the wrath of the Letter Carriers' Union, carried the body into the house. He decided that he would Put the body into the trunk of his car and dump it somewhere... before anyone noticed that the mailman was missing.
Narrator: A problem struck him. If the police investigated the disappearance of the mailman, there was a rather obvious clue Ail the houses on the mailman's route preceding his own would have had a mail delivery that day. Those after his, would not. Ralph wondered if he should turn himself-in. He remembered that a mailman had once broken his leg on a friend's property, and that cost the friend a lot of money. A broken neck was probably considered as bad as ten broken legs! Ralph poured a drink to steady his nerves. Then he undressed the mailman, and leaving the mailman comfortably in the living room chair, put on the mailman's uniform and went out to deliver the mail.
Narrator: No one noticed that it was Ralph delivering the mail, instead of the regular mailman. When he got home, he found that his key was still in his own pants, not in the mailman's pants. He tried to get in a window. He was spotted some policemen in a passing police car. They accused him o~ trying to break into the house. Ralph claimed that it was his own house. The policemen were doubtful that a mailman could afford such a large house. Ralph remembered that there was a body in his living room and dropped the subject. As they were taking him away, a policema-n-7o-Td-Wa-l-p-h-th-aTre was a disgrace to the Letter Carrier's Union.
SNIT ( 9 min. 49 sec.)
In THE BIG SNIT there are two simultaneous "states of peevish annoyance" (The Penguin Canadian Dictionary). A domestic quarrel is caricatured in a very funny way. Then, mirth becomes poignancy as the second snit reveals itself. Outside the narrow confines of the household squabble, a nuclear holocaust is underway. The two faces of comedy and tragedy become one. This is Academy Award nominee is known around the world for its sobering yet humorous view of the human condition, and its thought provoking message.
Before viewing, an explanation of s it is essential!
After playing the video the first time, students will want to talk about it. What are the two snits that are taking place at the same time? Are they really quite similar in their origins? How are they the same and how are they different?
Discuss the "peevish annoyances" of both husband and wife. The teacher might then lead off with one of her/his pet peeves, and ask each student to express two of their own.
min. 48 sec.)
Alive, colourful, and with a simple storyline, THE DINGLES can be used to stimulate discussion, develop descriptive vocabulary and characterization skills, and engage in classification as a language too]. But first, who are these Dingles? Doris Dingle is the grandmotherly figure who presides over her family of three cats, Donna, DeeDee, and Dayoh. Already you may see an opportunity to introduce the idea of, if not the word, alliteration!
The story itself is very simple. A sudden storm threatens their safety and only Doris' courage and ingenuity saves the family.
Before playing the video, read the text and single out any words which you feel should be introduced to your students. You needn't review all new vocabulary with them at this time, but You could at least introduce the cast by name.
Depending on your class size, create five groups of students, each to focus on different aspects during the video presention. One will note all descriptive details of the storm. Another will attend to the appearance, behaviour, and character of Doris Dingle. The remaining three will each choose one of the cats, Donna, DeeDee, or Dayoh, to describe their personality and physical attributes.
After the viewing the groups will take ten minutes to prepare, their descriptions. Ail students should participate in the oral presentations and while they are being- given, one member of each group might list key words on the blackboard. Groups should also be encouraged to replay the video without sound, stopping it at appropriate moments to illustrate their descriptions with sequences (or stills if the VCR is equipped for this)
* Using the four characters as examples, discuss stereotypes. Elicit from your students the stereotypes of cats in their culture and from their personal perspectives. Extend
this to other animals. In a multicultural group, compare these findings, and try to explain them.
* Try using the three cats to develop notions of classification. Their behaviour rather than appearance should be emphasized. Extend the process of classifying to foods, books, and restaurants. Discuss the difficulties and limitations of classifying things, as well as the advantages.
* Play with alliteration using the cats' names to make up simple sentences. Extend this to two-line verses which will also require rhyming. Language learning can be playful and enjoyable.
* What's in a name? Discuss how the cats' names suit (or don't suit) their personalities. Extend this to the students, opinions as to whether their own names suit them.
TEXT FOR THE DINGLES
There is a single voice, that of the storyteller. Depending on your students' cultural backgrounds, you may have to explain digging a hole to China, patio chairs, plastic gnomes, whirligigs, union suit, and other expressions. Use the visuals in the video to do this using the still picture or pause button.
Doris Dingle had three cats, Dayoh, Donna, and DeeDee. And she loved them with all her heart. Donna, a snobby Siamese,, spent most of the time sorting through her collection of bird feathers. DeeDee Preferred to tap Doris Dingle's cheek with her paw. Until Doris opened her mouth so wide that DeeDee could count her fillings. Dayoh was just an all-around good guy who was digging a hole to China. When Doris called him, she would yell "Dayoh, Dayoh!, " and he would come bouncing, bopping, and hand-springing. Every day was a wonderful day for the Dingles. But their favourite time was breakfast.
After eating, they would drink cat mint tea in the sunshine. Then go about their business in the backyard. One lovely day, Donna was
tanning her tail, while Dayoh worked on his digging. DeeDee had just curled herself down into the dandelion-picking basket, when something happened. It started out with a little breeze that blew away a few feathers. Then a wind that tipped over a big bag of peat moss. Suddenly a huge "whish" blew Doris Dingle's skirt right over her head. When Doris looked up she saw a little poodle, dog-paddling across the sky. Then Mr. Gonzo's union suit blew by like a big red kite with a clothesline tail. Then his patio chairs and all the plastic gnomes, flamingos and whirligigs. Just then, DeeDee came flying right by her, and landed flat against the fence, spread out like a maple leaf Then Donna... and Dayoh... and flower, pots, garbage pails, and lawn chairs, and garden hoses, all dumped into a big rubble pile.
But even though Doris was very scared, she made a plan. Lifting her big apron, she tore the bottom into three long strips. She tied one around each cat and then knotted all three to the waistband of her apron. "Onward to the patio doors," Doris shouted, and they were off
with their bellies to the ground, as flat as bearskin mats. The lightning struck the fencepost and shot the Dingles like missiles, right through the patio door into the house. Safely inside, the first thing they did was have a nice hot bath. While the storm flashed and crashed outdoors, Donna, DeeDee and Dayoh sat in a circle on the rug, and had warm milk and honey with butter on top. Doris had little cat mint cordial, settle her nerves. That night when Doris went to bed, Donna, DeeDee and Dayoh crawled into Doris Dingle's feather blanket. Two minutes later they were all zzzzzing (snoring) as the rain pitty-pattered the roof Everything was just as it should
be. The end.'
FINANCIAL CAREER ( 6 min. 38 sec.)
A fearful soul and his adventure with The Bank, this film is based on a short story by the late Canadian writer, Stephen Leacock. Set in an era when banks were all oak and marble, and the manager sat pompously in his will-furnished office like some minor emperor, MY FINANCIAL CAREER speaks of all encounters between the timid and the mighty. Our " Mr. Milquetoast" sets out to open a bank account with hilarious consequences. And maybe, just maybe, it will remind us of experiences and feelings from our own lives.
Since there is a lot of narration in this video, read the text first and introduce only those new words which are crucial to the understanding of a first viewing. You may want to give each student a word to look up and explain to their classmates.
Direct attention to the ways in which the filmmakers emphasize authority and power, and how they depict weakness and humiliation. These themes can be used for
post viewing discussion. For example, as the video opens, a very small and meek-looking man is walking up the steps of a huge, impressive, pillared building.
Discussion can follow other lines as well. A list in sequence of the actions in the bank can be compiled and then the
Discussion can follow other lines as well. A list in sequence of the actions in the bank can be compiled and then the man's "mistakes" identified. Discussion as to what he should have done can follow. It might also be interesting to talk about the bank staff and how they ought to have behaved.
* Work in pairs or groups of three to construct dialogue for the alternate scenario developed in discussion. Mr. Milquetoast now becomes Mr. Minihero! Try replaying the video without sound, with students reading or improvising the new narration.
* Complete sentences which begin "I am (or "I was") intimidated by…". Begin sentences which end "... is always intimidating. "
* Select other sequential processes or situations such as starting a car, baking a cake, arriving late for an important appointment, going to the dentist, or planting a tree. First, record the process step-by-step. Ask Students to work in pairs to dramatize each situation complete with commentary or dialogue. Encourage humour. Their classmates can critique each process and propose corrections to the procedures.
Talk about why My FINANCIAL CAREER is funny.
* Get serious! With your students' help, build up a list of current banking vocabulary. Discuss the steps in opening a bank account, in depositing and withdrawing money, and in
TEXT FOR MY FINANCIAL CAREER
Although there is just one voice, it takes on the parts of three characters---"My Milquetoast", an accountant, and the manager. In addition to new vocabulary, some students will not understand the references to Pinkerton's (a private detective agency founded in the U.S.A. and now operating security services internationally), Baron Rothschild (head of a famous international banking family whose fortunes developed in Europe during the Napoleonic Wars), and Gould (early American capitalist whose wealth came through control of railroads).
When l go into a bank, I get rattled. The clerks rattle me; the sight of money rattles me; everything rattles me. The moment I cross the threshold of a bank and attempt to transact business there, I become an irresponsible idiot. I knew this beforehand, but my salary had been raised by fifty dollars a month, and I felt that the bank was the only place for it. So I shambled in and
looked timidly 'round at the clerks. I had an idea that a person about to open an account must need to consult the manager. I went up to a wicket marked 'Accountant. " The accountant was a tall, cool devil. The very sight of him rattled me. My voice was sepulchral.
"Can l see the manager?" I said, and added solemnly, "atone. l don't know why l said "alone. "
"Certainly," said the accountant, and fetched him. The manager was a grave, calm man.
"Arc you the manager?" I said. God knows I didn't doubt it.
" Yes, " he said.
"Can l see you, " I asked, "alone?" I didn't want to say "atone" again, but without it the thing seemed self-evident. The manager looked at me in some alarm. He felt that I had an awful secret to reveal.
"Come in here, " he said, and led the way to a private room, He turned the key in the lock. "We are safe from interruption here, he said. "Sit down. " We both sat down and looked at each other, I found no voice to speak. "You are one of Pinkerton's men, presume, " he said. He had gathered from my mysterious manner that I was a detective. I knew what he was thinking and it made me worse.
"No, not from Pinkerton's, " l said, seeming to imply that l came from a rival agency. "To tell the truth, " I went on, as if I had been prompted to lie about it, "I'm not a detective at alt. I have come to open an account. I intend to keep all my money in this bank. The manager looked relieved, but still serious. He concluded now that I was a son of Baron Rothschild, or a young Gould.
"A large account, I suppose, " he said.
"Fairly large," I whispered. "I propose to deposit fifty-six dollars now and fifty dollars a month regularly. "
The manager got up and opened the door. He called to the
accountant. "Mr. Montgomery", he said unkindly loud, "this gentleman is opening an account. He will deposit fifty-six dollars. Good morning."
I rose. A big iron door stood open at the side of the room "Good
morning," I said, and stepped into the safe.
"Come out, " said the manager coldly, and showed me the other way.
I went up to the accountant's wicket and poked the ball of money at him with a quick convulsive movement. My face was ghastly pale. "Here," I said, "deposit it . " The tone of the words seemed to
mean "Let us do this Painful thing while the fit is on us. "
He took the money and gave it to another clerk. He made me write the sum on a slip and sign my name in a book. l no
longer knew what I was doing. The bank swam before my eyes. Is it deposited?" I asked in a hollow, vibrating voice.
"It is," said the accountant.
"Then I want to draw a check. " My idea was to draw out six dollars of it for present use. Someone gave me a checkbook through a wicket, and someone else began telling me how to write it out. The people in the bank had the impression that l
was an invalid millionaire. I wrote something on the check and thrust it in at the clerk. He looked at it.
"What! Are you drawing it all out again?" he asked in surprise.
Then I realized that l had written fifty-six instead of six. I was too far gone to reason now. I had a feeling that it was impossible to explain the thing. All the clerks had stopped writing to look at me. Reckless with misery, I made a plunge. "Yes, the whole thing. "
"You withdraw your money from the bank?"
"Every cent of it. "
"Are you not going to deposit any more?" said the clerk, astonished.
"Never. " An idiot hope struck me that they might think something had insulted me while I was writing the check and that I had changed my mind. I made a wretched attempt to look like a man with awefully quick temper. 777e clerk prepared to pay the money.
"How will you have it? " he said.
"How will you have it.",
"Oh'', l caught his meaning and answered without even trying to think, " in fifties."
He gave me a fifty-dollar bill. 'And the six? "he asked dryly.
"In sixes, " I said. He gave it to me and l rushed out.
As the big door swung behind me l caught the echo of a roar of laughter that went up to the ceiling of the bank. Since then I bunk no more. I keep my money in cash in my trousers pocket and my savings in silver dollars in a sock.
SAND CASTLE (13 min. 12 sec.)
A child's seashore dream of creating castles, walls, moats, and vast networks of superhighways, takes on new meaning in this Academy Award-winning video. THE SAND CASTLE is a modern-day creation myth. The creator himself emerges from the shifting sands of endless time and sets about his work with boundless energy. "The Sandman" not only creates a whole landscape of hills and valleys, buildings and structures, but lie then proceeds to populate this world with a strange assortment of living creatures, all well-adapted to suit their specialized functions. An unscheduled visitor arrives amidst this near-utopian bustle. The wind. And it blows and blows. A video with i message, but without words!
CAME BACK (7 min. 37 sec.)
This zany interpretation of an old folk song will set your students to tapping their toes, clapping their hands, and joining in the singing. There's nothing like a little music in the English class to overcome inhibitions, loosen up the vocal cords, and add cultural richness through this common language! As a bonus, THE CAT CAME BACK tells a good story and can be a real discussion starter.
It all centres around old Mr. Johnson and his yellow cat. AT first, their relationship is a happy one. but it quickly turns to hatred. their adventures and misadventures as the old man tries to rid himself of the persistent and unwanted visitor are full of action, humour, suspense, and disaster. Along with a simple introduction of the video, introduce the word goner.
During the introduction the class should be prepared to meet imaginary and nameless creatures on the screen and to make up a suitable name for each one. In literate cultures this is a must, since "naming is knowing!" Ask students to keep their pens at the ready to note not only the physical traits but also the behaviour of each creature. In order to keep track of the new creatures until they are named, they can be given numbers in order of appearance, beginning with #1 for "The Sandman.
"The video is over. Now the name creation game begins. Step one consists of associating the physical features and behaviour of each creature with possible names. Build up a double column on the blackboard. On one side list the attributes such as "three legs," snake-like movement," "snout," "aggressive," "burrows." In the other column begin to jot down descriptive words, prefixes, and suffixes, which could be formed into novel names. "Tri" and "sits" (from the three-Iegged -critter") could combine to be a "Trisits."
* There are other ways' to form names. " Try them. Playful rhyming is one approach. The creature which rolls could be dubbed "Moler the Roller,"
* Try acronyms too. The creatures with only heads and and arms who just keep on piling- up sand rnight become the "Head & Arm Pilers," or "Haps" for short.
* Names can be totally arbitrary too. Made from nothing as it were. Try this approach to give students opportunities for free word play with the sounds of English.
* Finally, with your students help, make a long list of English language given names, male and female, on the blackboard. Let students argue their choices for the Sand Castle People.
* Leave names alone for a while. View the video again. Put the story into words. Take one sequence and create dialogue for it. Dramatize as you might for radio.
* Discuss the story in terms of sad and happy, optimistic and pessimistic. Give reasons for opinions,.
* Think of THE SAND CASTLE as a great way to introduce prepositions; above, wider, behind, after, around, up, through, near, below, during, from, toward...
* The film ends in silence. Take the ending and continue it. What happens next?
* The moral of this story is not stated, Get your students to decide "A at it means.
(8 min. 10 sec.)
The story is a simple parable about two neighbours. Their friendly relationship turns to hatred, inspired by possessiveness toward a single pretty flower which springs up on the border between their properties. Argument escalates to violence, and in the end all is lost. NEIGHBOURS is a classic film with an innovative technique. Made in 1952 by world-renowned animator Norman McLaren, it won an Academy Award and continues to be acclaimed internationally for its profound message and its artistic qualities. All done without words, except for a concluding admonition in a dozen languages, "Love Your Neighbour."
Introduce the video by asking for the meaning of the word neighbours. After the first viewing, brainstorm for the message of the film NEIGHBOURS. Ask students to contribute words and phrases to a list you will build up on the blackboard. Then ask to have each item used in a complete statement. Write these on the board in numbered sequence. Each student will then choose the statement which she or he considers most appropriate. Discuss and debate the choices.
* Write paragraphs expanding Upon the one-sentence statements of meaning. Write another one explaining, your reasons.
* Retell the story either orally or in writing, in groups or as a class. Use descriptive words to express the feelings and mood.
* Create dialogue l for the video. Dramatize with four students playing parts. Add a narrator. Rewrite the ending to resolve the dispute in a civilized way. Dramatize the new scenario. When developing dialogue, try to engage all students in a collective effort.
* Imagine the film being made today. Discuss differences that would be almost certain in a modern version. The style of movement in NEIGHBOURS is called pixillation. What kind of special effects would bc used now? Would the portrayal of the wives be different"
(7 min. 27 sec.)
Antagonism and intolerance as one facet of the human condition are vividly Portrayed in this world by famous Czech animator, Bretislav Pojar. Cubes oppose spheres, violence and prejudice transcend] reason and understanding, and in the end, irony wins out. No dialogue or commentary is necessary. The characters' sounds and actions tell everything. A fitting companion to NEIGHBOURS, this video begs an answer to the question, "Isn't there a better way?"
This video needs, only the simplest of introductions. After viewing, ask what the war was really about. Elicit descriptions of how the fighting ended. Relate the
conclusion to a recent world situation where appropriate. Challenge students to suggest other ways of preventing and settling disputes.
* Get from your students a list of human differences which can cause friction (e.g. colour, language, habits and customs, personalities ... ), Ask them to choose one from the list, and construct a simple statement giving one cause (e.g. Colour causes friction because…). Discuss and debate the responses.
* Introduce the word escalation. Ask for examples of escalation in the video.
* Prepare your own word list based on the video (e.g. power, tolerance, stereotyping, fear, force, brutality, aggression, peace, conformity, hatred ... ). Ask for sentences using each Of the words in the context of BALABLOK.
* Compare and contrast NEIGHBOURS and BALABLOK.