At the beginning of November, year 12 and 13 German A-Level students spent a day at the British Film Institute (BFI) on the Southbank, London. This was a prime opportunity for the students to refine and develop their film analysis skills, which is a fundamental part of the new A-Level specification. Students individually travelled to the venue for a 10.15am meet; the upcoming day in the BFI auditorium consisted of a fascinating lecture from Caren Willig, a freelance BFI researcher in using short films in MFL teaching, as well as an afternoon screening of a German film.
Caren Willig’s lecture was a presentation broken into sections, each part supported by short clips from renowned German films with plentiful contextual information, chronologically mirroring the development and advances of German cinema since 1895. The students were given an introduction into analysis and how to discuss key elements of film in a mature and complex way. The use of sound, image and influence of the film on the audience were focal points for discussion. Simultaneously, we were educated on a brief history of German cinema, predominantly during the era of Nazi Germany, which was particularly insightful. Prior knowledge of this significant period proved useful, and Willig widened our understanding of film as a strategic method of propaganda; ‘Kino als eines der modernsten Massenbeeinflussungsmittel’ which translates to ‘cinema as the most modern instrument to influence the masses’. For example, the use of a wide camera angle to manipulate the number of advocates to appear in a Nazi parade on camera, to exaggerate the support for the Nazi regime.
After a short lunch break, a screening of a two hour long German drama film ‘Das Leben der Anderen, 2006 dir. Henckel von Donnersmarck’ proceeded in the auditorium. The film concerned an agent of the secret police in 1984 East Berlin, who was conducting surveillance on a playwright and his lover. The officer found himself becoming progressively engrossed in their lives, which eventually fatally spirals out of control. The sixth formers thoroughly enjoyed the enthralling plot, and look forward for further discussion of the film in forthcoming lessons.
By Alastair Lower, year 12.