3 films you should teach for WJEC MS4

Sick of the simplistic distinction between the ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ and the ‘British cottage industry’ film? Here’s a set of case study texts that will not only cover all the bases for WJEC’s MS4 industries unit, but will also stretch your students and give them a real picture of the film industry today.

The rationale for this selection was to represent a cross-section of the British film industry and to reflect how the industry is an unstable and complex body – it is too simple to say there are Hollywood studio films and British ‘cottage industry’ films.

While explaining the basic expectations of the different types of films and industries is important, we must consider the true reality of the contemporary industry. It is one where the foreign market is the strongest it has ever been, and where Hollywood influences domestic markets as much as it is influenced by them.

Skyfall – lower-ability students will be able to identify the high concept values in Skyfall; however, the richness of this text allows more confident students to talk about the complexity of the film industry, the blurring of boundaries when we think of a film’s nationality, and the compromises made for a mainstream British film to have international appeal.

Tyrannosaur – this film is perhaps more recognisable as a ‘British film’ than Skyfall, and thus serves as a clear comparison in the context of WJEC’s MS4 unit. Tyrannosaur opens up discussion about the cottage industry in the UK. What types of films do we produce in order to compete with Hollywood? How is Tyrannosaur quintessentially British? How does the film’s representation of Britain challenge those depicted in mainstream movies? The male and female relationship at the heart of this text will offer rich discussion when compared with Bond.

Les Misérablesa Working Title film, this case study allows students to once again think about UK–Hollywood relations. Les Mis is not representative of Working Title’s slate of romanticised British films, and therefore it encourages students to think about the choices Working Title make regarding which films to green-light. The film encourages students to consider issues of cross-media relations – the adaptation from theatre to screen – and globalisation – how is this traditional English musical about French history told by an international cast? In the 1990s, the future of the musical film looked uncertain; however, studying Les Misérables offers the opportunity to consider the genre cycle – how has the musical changed to suit new audiences and a new time?

A comprehensive scheme of work with detailed resources to guide your teaching of these three texts is available from ZigZag Education. ZigZag resources are available as ‘copy masters’ or in editable format and come with a site licence, allowing you to pay once and copy as often as you need, or put on your server for multiple use.

The Resource Packs for WJEC MS4 Film Industry 2nd edition is available as a photocopy master with site licence (UX20/5397, £59). Also available in:

  1. Easy-printing PDF files (add 30%+VAT), or
  2. PDF with editable Word files (add 50%+VAT).

Also available: Computer Games Industry for WJEC MS4.

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