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Show and Tell: No Arks (1969)
Introduction Art English History    
image from No Arks (1969)

No Arks, which is perhaps most useful for older students, offers an excellent opportunity to explore metaphors and allegory in more detail.

Ask students to explain what they understand by the term 'allegory' before giving them a simple explanation, such as "a literary, dramatic, or pictorial representation (or story) which has a symbolic meaning beyond the literal". It might also be useful to think about allegory in relation to fables, which students are likely to understand more readily.

After unpacking the term in some detail, watch the film through. Many students will find it difficult to understand the symbolic message of the film - even if you provide some context regarding nuclear paranoia and the campaign for disarmament. As a result they will need some 'scaffolding' - perhaps the easiest way to do this is to identify the ways in which the story deviates from the biblical tale, creating a list that can then be interrogated point by point. For example, Noah does not immediately take a pair of every animal in to the Ark etc… Once this list has been collated, ask students to think about the significance of each of these deviations. What might the director be trying to suggest in each case? For students who need a greater degree of support, it might be worthwhile providing a series of sentence starters. For example: In the film, Noah thinks about what it would be like to be 'master of the world'. This suggests...

This kind of exercise should ultimately lead up to a written activity which challenges students to produce a short written analysis discussing the meanings hidden in the animation, perhaps focusing on a particular layer of meaning - such as what the film suggests about human nature. Depending on the levels of ability in your class, it might also be worth extending this discussion to consider why Abu chose to use a biblical story as the foundation for his film.

No Arks might also work as the basis for a debating exercise to develop students' capacity to formulate and express their own opinions as well as adapting opinions in response to others. For example, an oral activity in which students argue for or against a hypothesis, such as: No Arks is about the inevitability of human conflict.

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