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Beauty, The — Pascal Schelbli, 2019

Ugly, dangerous and toxic – the plastic pollution is an environmental epidemic. ‘The Beauty’ is a poetic journey through our oceans as we have never seen them before. A strange world where the lines between plastic and nature are blurred and distorted, the ugly becomes beautiful and the discarded are given a new lease of life.

Dive into this mysterious world and follow the strange wildlife as the narrator sings the praises of a plastic fantastic future. As we discover the depths our feelings of guilt are quelled by voice reassuring us that nature has our backs. But just like the plastic pufferfish, and the shoal of shoes things aren’t quite what they seem…

Classroom Activities

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Critical

  • Watch the first ten seconds. In what type of environment do you think this film will be set? How do the opening titles use sound and visual effects to establish this setting?
  • Consider the camera work used in the opening section (0:15-0:50). Not all is as it seems, the director uses a mixture of long shots and close ups to make a key revelation. What do we think at first, and what does the change in shot size reveal?
  • Listen again to the music used in this film. Describe (tone, pace, instruments, etc) the music and how you think it is supposed to make the audience feel. Does this feeling match how the audience are supposed to feel about the overall message of the film? Why/why not?
  • Pay attention to the narrator’s voice performance, does it remind you of any other type of film or television programming? (Guide to nature documentaries). Think about pace, tone and use of pauses and silence. What elements of vocal performance usually adopted by narrators in these types of programmes are also heard in this film?
  • What do you notice about the use of colour in the first part of the film (until 02:32) versus the how colour is used in the latter part of the film?
  • As the camera tracks towards the surface 02:32-02:57 we see more and more plastic waste. How does the mis-en-scene represent humanity? (Guide students towards the idea of humanity being represented as reckless– i.e. range of items suggest wide scale of problem, disorganisation suggests thoughtless discarding of items, volume of plastic as we get close to surface increases suggesting humans are to blame).

Cultural

  • Plastic pollution is a massive environmental problem caused by human activity. What other environmental problems are humans responsible for? (Guide to: deforestation, fossil fuel shortage, CO2 emissions, GM crops, overpopulation, etc).
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years. Think about your day and how much plastic you have come into contact with. How can everyday people help with the plastic problem?
  • Big corporations and industry are also responsible for the plastic problem. What could governments and other agencies do to influence them to reduce plastic usage in manufacturing and packaging?
  • Films like ‘The Beauty’ help to raise awareness about plastic pollution. Can you think of other films which have helped to raise awareness on a particular societal issue?
  • Do you think film is a good way for creative activists to get their messages across to an audience? Why?

Creative

WRITE

  • Write a rhyming poem which deals with an important environmental issue. You could even attempt to perform it in the style of a nature documentary narrator!
  • Write a letter to a person of influence (think MP, MSP, company directors, etc) to voice your concerns about the plastic problem.

FILMMAKING

  • Make a short informational film with practical advice on how people can reduce, reuse and recycle their plastic waste.
  • Make a film which uses camera work, including long shots and close ups, to reveal something unexpected to the audience.

MAKE

  • Collect discarded plastic items and use them as materials to make your own underwater animal.

DRAW

  • Design a protest banner or placard which opposes plastic pollution. Try to use a catchy slogan, rhyme, pun or other literary technique for impact.

STEM

  • Plastic statistics make for striking figures. Research some of the numbers associated with plastic and present your information in a way that makes the most striking impact. Think about the size of numbers, comparisons and ascending or descending order.

Clip Details

Year of Production 2019
Genre Documentary, Drama
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Sciences, Social Studies
Director Pascal Schelbli
Country of Origin Germany
Medium / Content 3D Animation, Non-Fiction, Colour, Sound, No Dialogue
Themes Danger / Fear, Culture / Society, Food / Environment
Clip Length 04:14
Clip Length 04:14
Age Group P1-P4, P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6