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Show and Tell: Boy and Bicycle (1965)
Introduction English (1) English (2) Art Music  
English (2)
image from Boy and Bicycle (1965)
Author Poppy Simpson, BFI
ThemesExploring meaning in film

What's in a name? Before watching the film, ask students what they think Boy and Bicycle might be about? If you want to give them some prompting, the class could watch the film up to the point at which the title appears. Once students have seen the whole film, re-visit the question. Why did the director choose this title? It might be worth considering the significance of the bicycle in this sense. Does the bicycle have a symbolic meaning? Can it be considered a 'character'? This discussion might be broadened to include other film or book titles that students are aware of. How important is a title to an audience? What should a title tell you about a piece of literature or film? Are meaning and the title linked? How appropriate do students think the title Boy and Bicycle is?

This could lead nicely on to a consideration of Boy and Bicycle's underlying message or meaning. How different are students' interpretations of the film? Listen to some of the class's ideas, asking individual students to explain what factors influenced their reading of the film. This could be made easier with one simple exercise. Ask students to write two short paragraphs - one explaining what happened in the film and one explaining what they think the film is about. If they are feeling ambitious, challenge students to come up with the tag-line for the Boy and Bicycle DVD.

Playing around further with this idea of the film's 'message', lead a discussion about one of the final scenes of the film. Standing in the beach house, the boy asserts that he'll remember this day in 80 years. Why does he want to remember it? How will he remember it? Here's an opportunity for an imaginative piece of writing, with students writing an old man's 'memory' of his day playing truant. What do they think he will remember?

You might want to attack this idea of meaning from a different angle. Ask students to take on the roles of director and producer. Directors need to 'pitch' their ideas to producers to secure funding. Can students imagine how this film was pitched? After preparing for their roles, encourage students to hear each other's 'pitches' and decide whether or not they would fund the film based on the presentation!

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