The pictures

[Episode 7 | 1948 : Jen]

Jen and her friends are at the 'pictures' watching a newsreel that includes an announcement of the birth of Prince Charles. In the cinema foyer the girls steal a movie poster of Prince Philip, the husband of Princess Elizabeth (who would later become Queen Elizabeth II). The girls discuss the importance of 'handsomeness' and Jen tells them the prince looks like her father, who died in the war.


History

The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [3]

Activity 1: Talkies
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war; Entertainment and games; Inventions and electronic media
Discover
  • During the Second World War, Australians went to the cinema for recreation, information on world events and, for some, an escape from the realities of life during wartime. Newsreels depicted the British royal family, Hollywood stars and war heroes, and significant events. The Australian government used the cinema to promote propaganda about the war.
  • Cinesound was the most successful Australian studio during this era. It produced a number of Australian feature films, including a series of films based on Steele Rudd's 'Dad and Dave' characters, as well as newsreels and documentary films. In 1943, Cinesound's documentary Kokoda Front Line! won Australia's first Academy Award.
  • As a class, discuss the favourite types of films available in Australian cinemas in the 1940s. This discussion should highlight the fact that the majority of films screened at this time were imported from Britain or the USA.
  1. Students could research the names of the most popular films of this era to make a class list. They should try to find films from different categories: drama, comedy, documentary, etc. Divide the list into three columns to identify if they were produced in Australia, the United States or Britain.
  2. The class should also list famous actors associated with each film.
  3. You could refer to the following link at australianscreen, 'Australian film and television chronology – The 1940s', http://aso.gov.au/chronology/1940s/

Reflect
  • Following their research of films screened during 1948, ask students to create a movie guide for a local cinema from the time. They could make a pamphlet with the movie programme and a short description of each film to be shown. The guide could also include images from some of the movie posters of that era.
  • As a comparative activity, students could look at movie guides available today in the local newspaper. They could assess the differences between their 1948 cinema guide and a cinema guide today.
  • Refer to Screen Australia Digital Learning for further resources for this activity, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/learning/

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Activity 2: The movie poster
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Entertainment and games; Historical events
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  • In this episode, Jen and her girlfriends are infatuated with the movie stars of the era, leading them to take a movie poster from the local cinema. Movie posters in the 1940s were large and glossy, depicting fabulous portraits of lead actors.
  • You could obtain some sample movie posters from your local cinema or from the local library and display them in the classroom.
  1. As a class, brainstorm ideas about what makes a movie poster appealing. Discuss the layout, images, text, graphics and artwork style associated with movie posters.
  2. Discuss how effectively the posters you have displayed advertise the film. What are some of the advertising techniques used? Ask the students to evaluate how successful each poster is in advertising the movie.

Reflect
  • Ask students to make a movie poster that represents a movie from the 1940s. They should consider the layout, images, text, graphics and style of artwork. After planning the design of their poster, they could use a large poster-sized A2 card to lay out their design elements. To help with ideas, provide students with samples of posters and obtain images from the 'Stills gallery' on the My Place for teachers website.

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Activity 3: Australian film history
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Entertainment and games; Inventions and electronic media
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  • Charles Chauvel's 1940 movie Forty Thousand Horsemen was Australian cinema's first worldwide success story. In the following decades, many other Australian movies would also gain international success.
  • Ask students to create a list of the most successful Australian movies, particularly ones that achieved international popularity. As a class, discuss how Australia is presented in some selected movies: for example, Australia (2008), Man from Snowy River (1982), Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Finding Nemo (2003).
  • As students research movies of the past, make comparisons to moviemaking in Australia today. Select four well-known movies with 'Australiana' themes to use as examples in the class discussion and ask students to discuss why they think these themes are so apparent in Australian productions. Refer to the australianscreen website for clips such as Crocodile Dundee: australianscreen, http://aso.gov.au/titles/features/crocodile-dundee/

Reflect
  • Ask students to research the history of Australian moviemaking to create a timeline using pictures gathered from the internet. The timeline can include as many Australian film productions from 1928 until today as students wish, but the chosen movies should include Australian themes. The following websites may be helpful:
  1. australianscreen, http://aso.gov.au/
  2. Screen Australia Digital Learning, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/learning/

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