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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 1

Before you begin

Features of a film

Just as we study a novel, short story or poem and look at individual features such as language, setting, character, we separate aspects of the film in order to appreciate more clearly how it has been put together.

The main features we look at include:

  1. Character/Subject
    What they look like, how they speak, what they do, what happens to them, how they drive the story forward.
  2. Setting
    Time and place (such as 1950s or in the future), day or night, country, area. All these communicate specific ideas which have an impact on the atmosphere and therefore the events of the story.
  3. Plot
    Filmmakers carefully select the information, and the order in which the audience will see the story. This order determines our response/attitude to the characters and therefore the theme of the story.
  4. Production techniques
    These are lighting, props, sound (including music), special effects, costume, the use of colour, camera angles for example. Filmmakers carefully arrange the above to emphasise an idea or to create (or add to) a particular atmosphere.
  5. Dialogue
    Sometimes a narrator is used to communicate or comment on the action; what characters say (or don't say) is important - every word counts.
  6. The title
    This will be linked to the story or the message. Can sometimes be a pun or another type of word play but usually they have extra (sometimes hidden) meanings.
  7. Theme
    Most films have a number of ideas they explore. Often this is connected to something a character learns and therefore what we learn.

First viewing of the film

After watching the film, answer the questions below:

  1. In which category (genre) of film should 'Banana in a Nutshell' be placed? Give reasons for your answer.
  2. What is the film mainly about? Write a brief summary of the story.
  3. What was your reaction to watching the film?
  4. Record your impressions of Roseanne, Stephen, Roseanne's sisters Rhea and Renee, and their Chinese parents.

Published on: 24 Jun 2009