Movies, TV & Music
Screen Education

Screen Education No. 91

Screen Education is essential reading for those with an interest in media literacy. Produced by educators, scholars and critics, the magazines content is tailored to the primary and secondary classroom, as well as some tertiary-level material, offering a unique and engaging perspective on screen education.

Australian Teachers of Media Incorporated
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4 Issues

in this issue

15 min.
beating hearts compassion and self-discovery in call me by your name

‘When you least expect it, nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot,’ Professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) tells his heartbroken seventeen-year-old son in the penultimate scene of Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017). Elio (Timothée Chalamet) has just returned from a few days away in Bergamo with Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old American graduate student who has spent six weeks with his family as his father’s intern, and with whom he has fallen unexpectedly and deeply in love. Professor Perlman’s reflection is wise and warm – a father’s wish to normalise, not remove, the pain his son is feeling at this vulnerable time. The conversation that unfolds between them confirms Call Me by Your Name’s deep fabric of compassion: a father who absolutely accepts his son’s sexual desire…

16 min.
getting down to business mulan and disney’s evolving progressivism

Over the past several years, there has been a notable shift in the types of children’s films being produced by Walt Disney Studios. There have been stories featuring a Polynesian princess (Moana, Ron Clements & John Musker, 2016); Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations (Coco, Lee Unkrich, 2017); Hindu gods reimagined as superheroes (Sanjay’s Super Team, Sanjay Patel, 2015); a sidekick with same-sex desires (the live-action Beauty and the Beast, Bill Condon, 2017); and anthropomorphic animals navigating systemic racism (Zootopia, Byron Howard & Rich Moore, 2016). The studio is embracing narratives that explore gender and feminism, queer identity, race, and minority cultures and their mythologies, arguably as a genuine effort towards championing equity – or, more cynically, as a commercial response to the current culture of ‘wokeness’. While this shift…

13 min.
dark magic the mixed messages of beauty and the beast

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the misogynist. While that’s not quite what Mrs Potts – voiced with aplomb and a few sugar cubes by the inimitable Emma Thompson in Beauty and the Beast (Bill Condon, 2017) – warbles, she may as well have. Fairytales, even the modernised versions, are ripe with antiquated messages about gender, mental health and the idea of attractiveness being a measure of one’s true worth. From Princess Aurora (Mary Costa) being awakened from her slumber with a kiss she did not consent to in Sleeping Beauty (Clyde Geronimi, 1959) to the decision of Ariel (Jodi Benson) to silence herself to please a man in The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements & John Musker, 1989), there are some highly problematic messages…

15 min.
cinema science the dangerous biology of annihilation

Typically, the films selected for Cinema Science are relatively mainstream – movies you can expect the average high school student to have heard of, if not seen. Annihilation (2018) is different. Despite its formidable pedigree (written and directed by Alex Garland, starring the likes of Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tessa Thompson), this sci-fi film proved too cerebral for Paramount, which infamously dumped the end product onto Netflix. Consequently, Annihilation only received a theatrical release in North America and China – hardly the typical trajectory of a mainstream movie. But Annihilation boasts something not necessarily shared by its blockbuster competitors: accessibility. Some 38 per cent – and rising – of the Australian population have access to Netflix, so many of your students will be able to watch Annihilation … even…

16 min.
a different stage film, theatre and the space between

Film has, from its beginnings, leant on, stolen from and imitated the world of the theatre; the language of cinema itself is infused with theatrical techniques, structures and modes of representation. Increasingly, theatre has begun to adopt, emulate and cannibalise the language of cinema, so that it has sometimes become difficult to differentiate between the two disciplines. This cross-pollination has become a möbius strip of influence, not always comfortable or successful, but so comprehensive that it almost goes unnoticed. Of course, when film was in its infancy, theatre was the dominant and supreme performative artform. While cinematic innovation came quickly – one need only study the in-camera special effects that are the raison d’être of Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) to see how eager cinema was to break…

15 min.
reflecting windows the blade runner films in the english classroom

A favourite English teacher of mine used to say that a text can perform two functions: it can be a ‘window’ looking out at other people and places, working to strengthen students’ empathetic muscles as they walk a mile in unfamiliar shoes; and it can also be a ‘mirror’ for self-examination that employs familiar characters and stories, reflecting students back at themselves. We might say that the best texts for teaching perform both these functions. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the title character tells Horatio that the purpose of a play is to ‘hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature’, but the play itself also provides a window – into Elizabethan theatrical practices and early modern beliefs about theology, ghosts and the afterlife – that effectively takes readers back in time. A…