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Show and Tell: Terminus (1961)
Introduction English (1) English (2) Art Music  
image from Terminus (1961)
Author Rob Crumpton
TopicSoundtracks, music and moving images, creating mood and meaning

Play a selection of the film's scenes with the screen covered so that students can only hear the on-location sound and score. What do they think might be happening? Can they describe the characteristics of the score at a particular point in the film in terms of its pitch, dynamics, tempo, texture and structure?

On the other hand, you could invite your students to compose a short sound track for a particular scene (a good example might be the sequence in which the prisoners are transferred). This might work best if they have not heard the original music, although this task could be planned as a 're-design'.

There's lots of scope to explore the relationship between music and moving images using Terminus. The film has no narration, and relies, in part, on its musical score to create a sense of atmosphere and structure. Perhaps focus on a couple of scenes, analysing the significance of the music in creating meaning. This can be underlined by experimenting with different musical genres as the soundtrack to an individual scene, looking at how these different musical styles change or subvert the original meaning and mood.

If you want to look at soundtracks in a little more detail, why not look at the different types of sound in Terminus - on-location sound, the music used during the front and end credits, incidental music and music that is central to the 'story'. How do students differentiate between these different elements in the soundtrack? How would they describe the balance between these various elements? This could be developed to look at soundtracks in general. How is music used in feature-films, soaps and reality TV? There are plenty of examples to choose from in BFI Screenonline!