This is England

Comparing montages in the ESL-EFL classroom with Shane Meadows’s This is England

I have recently finished watching This is England ’90 on DVD. Clearly I am a bit late in the game, the series having first aired on Channel 4 in 2015. A long-time fan of director Shane Meadows,  it is purportedly the final installment of a saga that began with coming-of-age movie This is England (2006, above), set in the aftermath of the Falklands War. Examining the racism and disaffection of the early Thatcher years, it was followed by three mini-series made for television: This is England ’86, ’88 and ’90. Continue reading

Siren calls from the past

Robert De Niro in Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

From Sergio Leone to Dennis Potter – sound, music and flashback

My last post about 1985’s Dreamchild has got me thinking about scenes of remembering from cinema and television, and particularly how sound can be employed to signal a temporal shift in narrative. In the Dreamchild scene featured in my post the incessant ringing of a telephone seems to open up a rabbit hole both into traumatic past events – in this case the spectre of Alice’s possible abuser – and a fantasy world borne of Lewis Carroll’s imagination. By way of a reminder, here is that scene again: Continue reading

Retro-futurist virtual realities

Video-based ESL/EFL lesson plan about virtual reality, featuring iconic tv series The Prisoner and forgotten ’80s sci-fi movie Brainstorm

Blogging about The Prisoner the other day reminded me of a great episode of the cult series in which Patrick McGoohan finds himself playing a role as a gunslinging sheriff in a western. Watching a repeat of the series as a youngster in the 90s, I was totally thrown by the way the series removed the normal opening credits and plunged us into what was ostensibly a totally different genre. The only thing that linked us back to the show was the presence of McGoohan, but none of the series’ other hallmarks were present. I have even written a paper on this episode, entitled ‘Living in Harmony’, published in French in this volume. Continue reading

Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

Communicative English class about the Cold War, brainwashing and individual freedom

I have done many variations of a class based around clips from Patrick McGoohan’s iconic 1960s tv series The Prisoner, focusing in particular on the opening sequence and the first scenes of the debut episode. These work especially well as a basis for discussion as there is minimal dialogue and the narrative is almost entirely shown, with plenty of scope for description and vocab-building. The first episode is also rich in mystery, allowing lots of opportunities for student speculation. Continue reading