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El Caminante (1997)

The excited inhabitants of a small mountain town prepare for the visit of a travelling high-wire artist. They gather to watch his death-defying attempt to cross the local gorge, but look on in horror as he loses his balance. He regains his footing and makes it across, but as he reaches the other side and the crowd applauds, it’s as much from relief as appreciation. As night falls and the crowds return to normal life, people still continue to play at being tightrope walkers. This 2D drawn animation film captures the sense of ‘event’ in an unusually evocative way.

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  • Is this what usually happens in this town? If not, what do you think does?

  • Where does the story take place? Is it in a particular country?

  • Does it remind you of anywhere you’ve been?

  • What are the main settings in the film?

  • What do faces look like? Is it easy to tell people apart?

  • How do people move in the film? Are they meant to look like real people? Does this help the film?

  • How does EI Caminante behave differently with different people in the town? What does this tell us about him?

  • When do we see the birds? Why do we see them? Do we see any other animals?

Watching

  • Using freeze frame and shots in sequence techniques, study the shots used to tell the story. What is the sequence of shots at the beginning of the film? What do they tell us about the town?

  • Find examples of close-ups, medium shots and long shots. Why are they used at these points in the story?

  • Where is the camera when EI Caminante is crossing the rope? How does it make it seem exciting?

  • Screen the last minute of the film, asking your pupils to look for close-ups, medium shots and long shots shots – look at how the animator ‘summarises’ passing time. As groups, ask pupils to put the ten mixed up shots of the sequence in order. Get them to discuss and defend choices as a class to agree on order. Watch closing sequence again.

  • Repeat this exercise in written form: Ask children to write up the sequence, using a change of paragraph where suggested by the shots. Get them to cut up and rearrange the paragraphs to see if they work in a different order and what effect this has on the storyline.

  • Encourage children to focus on the information which each shot provides, such as the emotions on a face in a close up, or the feel/look of surroundings in a long shot.

  • Ask children to storyboard a sequence for ‘what happened next’ to El Caminante.

Analysing

  • Create an image profile of El Caminante. Ask your pupils to draw an outline of El Caminante on a large sheet of paper. Inside, they should write words to describe what he is like. Outside the outline, they should write words to describe what other people think of him. Share in groups, giving reasons for words where necessary.

  • Role play doing interviews with EI Caminante showing his character traits and tape or film the interviews.

  • Discuss El Caminante’s view of events. What techniques does the film use to represent this; e.g. camera shots/angles. Focus on his feelings, his impression of the town and the people in it, his experience of the tightrope walk and his feelings after the event.

  • The enigmatic traveller in El Caminante has echos of the ‘Pied-Piper’. Brainstorm examples of myths, fables and legends. What do they have in common? List these features on the classroom board or flipchart. Watch El Caminante looking for any of the features mentioned.

Creative

  • Write a newspaper advertisement for a tightrope walker, including characteristics needed.

  • Write a newspaper report about EI Caminante’s visit to town. (This could interview quotes from different people: e.g. the little girl who held his cloak, the priest, one of the onlookers).

  • Write the introduction to a biography of El Caminante.

  • Write your own version of a myth or legend for younger children, remembering the way the film established characters and settings and transferring that visual sense to your writing.

  • Ask children to write an account of El Caminante’s day, from his viewpoint. They should write it in the first person and include his feelings and opinions.

  • Writing or storyboarding: add new ‘chapters’ to EI Caminante’s story: how did he prepare for his visit? What did he do before he arrived at the village and then, after he left? Where did he go next

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-101-C
Resource Rights Holder Channel Four Television Corporation 1999
Project Ref STSH1-03
Year of Production 1997
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Literacy and English, Social studies, Religious and moral education, Modern Languages
Who Deborah Smith (Director, Animator), Jeremy Moorshead (Producer)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Celebration, Culture, Danger
Clip Length 05:00