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00h17 — Xavier de Choudens, 2005

A group of seven young men are waiting on the last train at a deserted station in France. The train is due to arrive at 17 minutes past midnight. Initially we see that their conversations are varied but disjointed and unconnected. One of the young men, Sacha, starts to think and ask questions about the night sky. The youngest, Alex, spurs. The group on to act out the planets in the solar system. He encourages each of them to take on the role of a planet. They discuss which planet they want to be and why. As a group they then move and dance around like planets around the sun. When Alex is asked what planet he is, he replies that he is “only an atom”. The train arrives and they get on…

In French with English subtitles.

Modern Languages teachers will find a bespoke set of lesson ideas for this film here.

Classroom Activities

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  • Why do you think the train time is so particular at 00h17?
  • Why do you think this is the title of the film?
  • What words would you use to describe the type of conversations the young men have and how they interact with each other while they are waiting?
  • Watch from 04:42-06:44. What is different about the camera angles during these sequences? What is the purpose of filming in this way?
  • Do the young men enjoy acting out being planets? How do you know? What are they doing individually? And as a group?
  • How do they then appear to be feeling when they get on the train? Are they different? With particular reference to their faces and their interactions describe how they have changed. Why do you think this is?
  • Why does Alex say, “I’m only an atom”? What do you think the director is trying to say?


  • Do you think you’d find a group of young people like this waiting on a train in Scotland? Why / Why not?
  • What differences and similarities would there be?
  • If you did find them, would they act out being planets in. the solar system?
  • Alex knows a lot about the different planets. Teaching about the solar system is an integral part of the curriculum in many European countries. Do we teach and learn about the solar system here? Would you like to learn more about the planets? Why / why not?



  • Imagine you are Alex (“I’m only an atom”). Describe your thoughts and feelings on the train journey home.
  • Write an inner monologue from the perspective of any of the characters on the platform. Consider how they feel before being a planet, becoming a planet and then afterwards on the journey home.
  • The young men attach personal characteristics to some of the planets. Which planet would you be and why?


  • Draw a pictorial representation of the solar system – try and make it colourful and beautiful.


  • Design and make a scale model of the planet, taking into account their size and position in relation to each other – be as avant-garde / out there as you like.


  • Thinking specifically of the music which accompanies the planet dance (04:42 – 06:44). Can you think of alternative music to accompany this section? (E.g. Ludovico Einaudi / Mike Oldfield / Vivaldi or something very modern and contemporary.)


  • The guys all have their own dance moves. Either individually or in a group try and choreograph your own dance moves / a planet dance to your chosen music. It can be fast or slow.


  • Analyse the language the young men use when talking to each other – how would you describe it? Are these conversations realistic?


  • Alex knows how long it takes each planet to orbit the sun / earth. Research this for yourself and find out.
  • What is the size of each planet? How far is each one from the sun / earth? What is the climate like on each planet?
  • How do the planets impact our daily lives?

Clip Details

Year of Production 2005
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Modern Languages, Literacy and English, Sciences
Director Xavier de Choudens
Country of Origin France
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Culture / Society, Intolerance / Misconceptions, Communication, Creative Expression
Clip Length 09:51
Clip Length 09:51
Age Group S4-S6