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Reading images - character

Many of the methods we use for learning about characters within films are equally applicable to characters within written texts; in both formats we examine character traits, interpret behaviour, and form expectations of characters’ responses.

We note that characters appearing in specific settings will behave in particular ways and predict what they will do, we infer feelings from their facial expressions, and take pleasure from stories where they surprise us completely.

When we focus on character, we look at the characteristics and behaviour of an individual that makes them distinct from someone else. We can determine much about a character from their appearance and where they are positioned in relation to others or their environment.

Over the next two steps, we will watch clips from two short films, Sausage and Between Us and start answering simple questions that can be used as a catalyst for further character work.

Before we start analysing the characters from these two great short films consider the following questions and leave some thoughts in the comments area:

Have you ever used focused on a character from a film to aid characterisation work in class? If so who?

Should we always look to analyse human characters? How about animal characters with human characteristics?

Have you ever come across any interesting characters in films you’ve watched that you think would work in your class context?

Who is your all time favourite character from a film and why? What is it about them that makes them so enthralling?

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Literacy Through Film

The British Film Institute (BFI)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

  • Why use film to improve literacy?
    Why use film to improve literacy?
    video

    Watch this short video to discover how and why learning through film improves literacy.

  • Foley sound
    Foley sound
    video

    This step is an introduction to Foley art, and has a video clip with Foley artist, John Fewell.

  • Stills from The Girl and the Fox that show different shot sizes.
    Developing writing through camera shots
    article

    Linking camera shots and positions to still images in this activity, can provide a great writing stimulus in creating narrative.

  • Record and Playback
    Record and Playback
    video

    An introduction to the technique of Record and Playback, a simple but very effective tool for curricular learning.

  • Two images each showing samples of a shoe box set design.
    Shoebox set design
    article

    Making a shoe box set takes your pupils on a filmmaking journey that produces literacy outcomes, and is a great tool for assessment. PDF provided.

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