— Using a Film Clip from "Pink Floyd: The Wall"
Subject: ELA: Theme;
Ages: 14+; High School Level;
Length: Clip: fifteen minutes; Lesson: three 45 - 55 minute class periods.
Excerpts from the Complete Snippet Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will learn a method for determining theme and will write a thematic statement in a paragraph or an essay. They can also be asked to write compositions of various types on topics suggested by the clip.
Rationale: Deriving theme is an important skill required by most ELA curriculum standards. An explication of the clip enables students to practice deriving theme and writing compositions using subject matter of interest and value.
Description of the Film Clip: "Pink Floyd: The Wall" is a dark, expressionistic musical structured around the memories of Pink, a depressed British rock musician. As a young boy, Pink suffered from the effects of his father's death in WW II, a distracted and distant mother, and a repressive and unresponsive school system. In the clip, a young Pink tries to express himself in writing, only to be ridiculed by his teacher and his fellow students. He escapes through fantasies of a factory/school in which faceless automaton children are processed on a conveyor belt which takes them to a meat grinder. The students then riot, singing "We don't need no education", and burn down the school. When the building is ablaze, they throw the teacher into the flames. This powerful clip contains striking visuals, evocative music, and simple, forceful lyrics. The images are dark, the hopelessness palpable.
Note that the themes derived from the clip are different than the theme of the overall film, which focuses on how Pink builds a wall to insulate himself from the pain he experiences in the world.
USING THE FILM CLIP IN THE CLASSROOM
1. Preview the film clip and find its exact location. In the newer releases of the movie, the scene selection can be complicated.
2. While previewing the clip decide whether to give an introduction. A proposed introduction is set out below. Some teachers play the clip without an introduction.
3. Review and, if appropriate, edit or supplement TWM's "Worksheet on Pink Floyd: The Wall" (available to TWM subscribers). The worksheet contains many discussion topics and there may not be time to cover them all.
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.
Today we're going to do another exercise in understanding the theme of a work, only this time we're going to find the theme in a movie. Often, movie makers are concerned with conveying a message to their audience. People who watch movies without being able to understand those messages miss a lot of what the director and the actors are trying to tell them. The process for determining the theme of a movie is the same as for a written work.
2. Introduce the clip by giving the class the following information. . . . .
The Snippet Lesson Plan continues with a proposed introduction, a worksheet, exercises, and assignments relating to the determination of theme in a work of fiction.
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Snippet Lesson Plans are based on short subjects or film clips. They are ideal for classroom use because the video segments are less than 40 minutes in length.
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A movie clip from "Pink Floyd: The Wall" is an excellent tool for teaching students to derive theme.
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