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Accident (2003)

Two young white men happen upon the scene of a recent road accident on a busy London junction. An injured man lays on the road, another man trying to help him. A crowd gathers: the two men join them. The police arrive, and the crowd are hostile towards them, offering no explanation as to what has occurred. As the ambulance arrives, tensions run high, cultures clash and arguments break out between the police and the crowd. The film has a naturalistic feel due to its use of handheld digital camera and the unstructured style of narrative.

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  • Who is the main character in this film? How do we know that?

  • How would you categorise this film’s genre?

  • In what ways do you think the style of this film resembles that of a documentary? And how is it different?

  • What examples of everyday London are used to symbolise the city and remind the viewer of the film’s setting?

  • In groups, compare notes on the variety of ages and ethnicity that appears in the film. Is it a realistic cross-section of London, as far as the pupils know?

  • Does the film have a single central or dominant idea, message, or theme?

  • What does the film says about modern multicultural society?

  • Why does the film end on the final visual cue: ‘Can you help?’

Watching

  • How does the filmmaker use camera, framing and editing rather than dialogue to make us aware of the film’s plot?

  • How does the filmmaker establish the main character (protagonist) of the film? In what ways does the filmmaker use the camera to present the main character assumptions and ideas?

  • Discuss the use of colour in this film. How important is colour to the film’s overall message?

  • Download the film into an editing program such as iMovie or Windows MovieMaker and desaturate the colour. Discuss in class whether this makes the film more or less effective.

  • Screen the film and ask your pupils to concentrate on the use of sound in the film. Ask them to note any diegetic sounds they hear. How is sound and dialogue used to create a sense of confusion or panic around the accident?

  • How does the filmmaker use camera, composition and framing to create a realistic accident scene? How does the filmmaker develop composition and designaround the accident to indicate their own attitudes?

  • Play the film sequence where the woman says, ‘He’s taking it very personally.’ Pause on the dazed man, with policeman. Discuss: ‘Is he taking it too personally? If he is not the protagonist, what is the point of him being in the film?’ (Contrast this with what pupils know about other characters.) ‘Why do you think he reacts this way? What would you do?’ Ask pupils to answer these questions in pairs then feed back to the class.

  • Discuss why the scenes periodically fade to black.

Analysing

  • Show the opening sequence, up to the credit ‘BreakThru Films’ with the sound on. We see images of a glossy city, and hear the sound of an aeroplane. How do the images and sound create the setting? What is this setting? The sequence ends facing a graffiti-covered wall. What is the significance of this?

  • Stop the film at the point where the Asian man in the cap appears. Make the link explicit between setting and atmosphere, to demonstrate the power of contrast.

  • Show the sequence where the crowd gathers. Ask pupils to list as many different people as they can.

  • Now show the whole film with sound.

  • Discuss the first reading of the film. What is it about? What groups did the pupils observe? Who is the main character/protagonist?

  • Continue the discussion in pairs then ask for a written response.

  • How does Dave’s reaction to seeing the man in the cap for the second time position you as a viewer in relation to him? How does the same scene demonstrate how we bring our own subjectivity to the reading of a text? How and why does the director seek to directly involve the audience in the film’s final shot?

Creative

  • Ask pupils to put themselves in the role of Dave and think, ‘What am I thinking? How am I feeling?” Select a few pupils to express their thoughts. Highlight the fact that different pupils have different answers, and discuss why.

  • Show the opening sequence. Ask pupils to list adjectives to describe the two white youths, the Asian youth in a cap and the man by the body. Show the sequence two or three times as pupils make their lists. Take feedback for each character. Write the adjectives on the board, and encourage pupils to refine them to produce a range of synonyms or near-synonyms.

  • Working individually, ask pupils to write a one-minute monologue for one of the four characters. Then ask pupils to perform their monologues to the class.

  • Imagine you are a reporter in the crowd. Write a newspaper article about the accident and its aftermath, highlighting how it illustrates either prejudice, apathy or mistrust. Ask pupils to think up a catchy headline for their article, and then share examples.

  • Ask pupils to write a report on what they believe to be the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Develop the discussion back as a whole class and draw out the ideas of the ‘good Samaritan’ and ‘helping thy neighbour’. Are these concepts still relevant today?

  • Ask pupils to write a story in the first person, describing how they would react to an event similar to the one in the film.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-047-C
Resource Rights Holder Breakthru Films Ltd.
Project Ref MVS-07
References Interview with the filmmaker, The script, The storyboard
Year of Production 2003
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas subjects
Who Alan Dewhurst (Producer), Hugh Welchman (Producer), James Leech (Director, Writer)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Stereotypes, Prejudice, Witness, Communication
Clip Length 10:00