The Expository Phase Using "High Noon"
Subject: ELA: Expository Phase
Ages: 12+; High School level
Length: Snippet: On film clip of 15 minutes, 20 seconds; Lesson: one to two 45 - 55 minute class periods.
Excerpts from the Complete Snippet Lesson Plan
Overview: Students will be introduced to the essential components of the expository phase in a film and will be asked to analyze it. Responses will be discussed in class. Then students will be guided to literature and asked to provide a more formal analysis of the expository phase in a novel, play, or short story of the teacher's choice. Introducing literary devices in film and then moving to print may help today's students understand literary analysis. Golden, J, Reading in the Dark, pg. xiii, National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, 2001.
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will be introduced to the essential components of the expository phase in a film and will be asked to analyze it. Responses will be discussed in class. Then students will be guided to literature and asked to provide a more formal analysis of the expository phase in a novel, play, or short story of the teacher's choice. Introducing literary devices in film and then moving to print may help today's students understand literary analysis. Golden, J, Reading in the Dark, pg. xiii, National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, 2001.
Rationale: The expository phase is an important element of literature and appears in most works of fiction, written or performed. Since film is the literature of today's young people, it will be easier for them to recognize it film and then transfer the skill to written works.
Description of the Film Clip: Released in 1953, "High Noon" is one of America's most respected Western films. It illuminates the struggle of a man who resists the forces of lawlessness despite the fact that no one else will stand with him. The first 15 minutes are the expository phase of the film, containing a clear presentation of setting, characters and a complication that will keep the audience interested.
Helpful Background: Will Kane, the protagonist, is ending a successful career as a marshal in what once was a crime-ridden frontier town. After years of hard work, Kane secured the conviction of Frank Miller, the leader of the gang that had terrorized the town. Miller is now in state prison and the town is a safe place in which to live. As the movie opens, Kane is marrying a beautiful Quaker woman who has prevailed on him to move to another town and become a shopkeeper. The conflict comes into focus at the end of the wedding ceremony, when it is learned that Miller has been released from prison and is coming back for revenge. He is scheduled to arrive on the noon train. His gang has reassembled and is waiting. Kane is unwilling to leave the town undefended until a new marshal, scheduled to arrive the next day, is sworn in. As the time for Miller's arrival approaches, every person in town, including long time friends, town officials, Kane's deputy marshal, and even his new wife, find some reason to decline the marshal's request that they stand with him in an effort to stop the outlaws.
Shown in its entirety, High Noon provides an example of the use of foils, symbol and motif. It is an excellent basis for teaching the myths of the Western genre, some of which are still important in the cultures of the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The film has been called an allegory criticizing to the failure of political and business leaders, and even common people, to resist the excesses of the McCarthyites and the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Made during the height of the Red Scare, "High Noon" is one of the few American movies in which the filmmakers had to disguise the political implications of their movie in order to get it made. As such, the film itself is an artifact of history.
"High Noon" also contains a well crafted expository phase, which provides the opportunity for this Snippet Lesson Plan. Because of the many teaching opportunities provided by this movie for both English and history classes, TWM recommends making this lesson part of a larger unit based on the entire film. Click here for the Learning Guide to "High Noon".
USING THE FILM CLIP IN THE CLASSROOM
1. Review the Snippet and to make sure it is suitable for the class. Review the Lesson Plan and decide how to present it to the class, making any necessary modifications.
2. Make a class set of the lyrics to the title song, High Noon, written by Ned Washington. The complete Snippet Lesson Plancontains a link to a copy of the lyrics suitable to be printed and passed out to the class.
3. Cue the DVD to the first film clip and make sure that all necessary materials are available.
Do not forsake me Oh my darlin'
On this, our weddin' day . . . .
Step by Step
1. Introduce the lesson, telling the class what is going to be taught and why the lesson is important. A suggestion for an introduction for this Snippet Lesson Plan is set out below.
The movie High Noon is a study of the characters of many of the people portrayed in the film. The primary character is Will Kane, the marshal. The expository phase of any story sets the stage for the rest of the tale. It sets the time and place while it introduces the major characters and the conflict. Most stories, written, filmed, or presented on a stage, have an expository phase.
2. Play the first two minutes twenty seconds of the clip from the beginning of the film until the ballad is finished. . . .
The complete Snippet Lesson plan has six additional detailed steps with activities, discussion prompts (with suggested answers), class activities, and a homework assignment.
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High Noon is a Western Classic, a study in character and much, much more.
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