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Fare-Dodger [Schwarzfährer] (Pepe Danquart, 1993)

A commuter, unable to start his motorbike, jumps on a tram without purchasing a ticket. During the journey, he witnesses a black man sit next to an elderly white woman, who loudly voices her racist views to the rest of the passengers. Will anyone defend this man? And what will happen when the conductor comes along to check the tickets?
This story of “everyday” racism - the term "schwarzfahrer" can also be translated as "black rider" - won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject in 1994.

You will find a complete BGE Fourth Level Health and Wellbeing unit on 'Fare-Dodger [Schwarzfahrer]' here.

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  1. How is the audience manipulated in the film? Why do we feel unsympathetic towards the old woman?

  2. Does the film fairly represent older people?

  3. Why are the passengers silent at the end of the film?

  4. Discuss the following in relation to this film: “It takes good men to do nothing for evil to prosper”.

  5. Discuss the issues involved in the film; racism, immigration, unemployment, youth, old age... Ask the students to discuss in groups what they consider the two main issues in the film to be, using examples from the film to support their ideas.

Watching

CAMERA

  • Discuss how the director uses the camera to create the impression of a busy station and the isolated way that people go about their daily lives.

  • Watch the film to the point when the moped rider boards the tram. As the students watch, ask them to write down adjectives and descriptive phrases to describe what they see. Then ask them to note down what other camera techniques are used up until the tram is boarded and try to marry these to their descriptive phrases.

  • Count how many times we see close-ups and extreme close-ups of characters’ eyes. Why are these shots in the film?

  • During the scene in the tram where the old lady is talking, why does the director intercut shots of the other passengers?

  • Watch the whole film from start to finish, asking students to look for representations of the elderly, and representations of the young. Using Freeze Frame and Spot the Shots, get the students to choose examples of close-ups, reaction shots, character facial expressions and editing that show something specific about each age group in the film.

MISE-EN-SCÈNE

  • Discuss the creation of mise-en-scène. Ask the students to focus on the establishing shot and the arrival of the passengers at the station. Discuss how the use of camera angles, sound and editing adds to the mise-en-scène.

  • Show the scenes that focus on the arrival at the station. How does the film create the impression of busy, urban life in these scenes?

Analysing

CHARACTER

  • Using stills from the film, find connections between students’ ideas about the Black man's character and what is shown in the film. For instance, do his facial expressions show how he is feeling?

THEME

  • Show Schwarzfahrer and ask students to discuss their readings of the film. Discuss the different readings of the film. Do all films have meanings that are constructed? What groups did the students observe in the film?

REPRESENTATION

  • Discuss and define the idea of ‘representation’. What does it mean? Ask students to define the meaning of the concept and write this onto card for future reference. Now screen the film. Afterwards, return to the definition cards and ask the students to reconsider their original ideas. What groups are apparent in the film: black/white /old/young/others?

  • How does the way certain groups in society are represented by film influence audiences?

  • Do the issues of racism and immigration arise? Did anyone perceive the different representations of youth and old age? How were these representations created?

  • Review the section of the film where the black youth boards the tram until the end, focusing on the character of the young Black man. What adjectives would describe his behaviour?

  • Again, watch the section from where the black youth boards the tram until the end. As they watch ask the students to write down what the old lady says. What do her statements tell us about her? Ask the students to annotate each statement, indicating what they believe it means. To what extent does what she says represent her age group?

Creative

WRITE

  • Using the film as reference, write a monologue for the Black man who stays silent in the film, focusing closely on how they think the filmmaker would want him to feel and ensuring their reading of his character matches his representation on screen. This could be based on his responses to the woman’s statements.

  • Write a poem on the theme of ‘Urban Life’

  • Write a story from the point of view of one of the other passengers in the tram, recounting this incident in their day.

RESEARCH

  • Using current tabloid and broadsheet newspapers compare the representation of immigrants in the British press

FILMMAKING

  • Using the film as a source, create an information guide that gives examples of specific camera shots and angles.

DRAMA

  • Get students to role play the old lady and the young Black man, creating a new scene that further explores the ideas raised by the film.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-059-C
Resource Rights Holder Trans-Film Vertrieb GmbH
Project Ref SCRS-03
Year of Production 1993
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas subjects
Who Pepe Danquart (Director)
Country of Origin Germany
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Black & White, Sound, Subtitles
Themes Racism, Bigotry, Justice
Clip Length 12:00