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Visualising character

Film images are very effective at quickly establishing places - or at least at showing us places, and spaces, without necessarily telling us where (and when) they are.

The opening 90 seconds of our short film Szalontudo, or Tripe and Onions, is a very good example. We are shown an outdoor snack stop. One man arrives and there is an exchange of looks between three other characters - a man playing a tune on glass bottles, the counter attendant, and another man.

This much we know - not from the place itself - but from the way people in the space interact. But where is it? Which country? Which culture? The original title, Szalontudo, will give it away if we recognise how Hungarian words are spelled, but otherwise it’s an inscrutable place, and the filmmaker seems to have no interest in telling us where we are. Maybe he (the director is a man) wants us to feel as disoriented as the man in the suit.

The activity in this step uses a resource called ‘Role on the Wall’. In its simplest form a large outline of a person is tacked to the wall in the classroom, and students annotate it with everything they know about a character (from a film, story, or image they are studying) inside the outline, and everything they don’t know, is put outside the outline.

You can download two versions of this resource from the download section, annotate or amend them for your class and upload them as examples to share to padlet. Again this can be done in your target language, and in class it might be the preparation to a speaking activity or presentation. There are also some sample character stills from the film to use in your classroom.

Role on the wall worksheet image

Finally, we have excerpts from a short piece of writing (written by a critic whose first language is not English) that explains some of the background to the film. Once you have completed your Role on the Wall and read the explanatory text, add what you now know, in a different colour.

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This video is from the free online course:

Short Film in Language Teaching

The British Film Institute (BFI)

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