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I Expect Joan Feels The Same (2003)

Two elderly war widows discuss their marriages, the war and their grief. Both women had married young but were quickly parted from their spouses, who were called up to fight in World War II and killed. Their conversation is intercut with archive war footage and photos of the women, their late husbands and the time they lived in. They share memories, talking with nostalgia and humour about their experiences. Both still miss their husbands; their discussion ends in tears. Though tragic, the film is a personal insight into a historical period, love and loss.

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  • I Expect Joan Feels The Same is a factual recounting of past events. How is the story presented?

  • Why has the filmmaker included certain images (such as photographs)? What does it add in terms of information?

  • How did you feel watching this film: Happy? Sad? Nostalgic?

  • Did you like the two ladies in the film? If so, why?

Watching

  • Freeze the image at the scene after the clouds: Joan with her feet up looking at the photographs. Discuss what the shot shows. Does the setting contribute to the atmosphere of the film? Why is this shot placed here? What has just been said? What does this shot make you think of?

  • Cover the screen and listen to the soundtrack (before showing the film for the first time). Ask students to list what sounds they can hear. Who do you think is talking? How does it make you feel? Discuss how elements of a moving image soundtrack have meaning that contributes to the narrative.

  • Look at the sequence where the telegram is shown in close up/cenotaph/plane in sky/aerial shot of the ground/close up of pilot. Ask your pupils to note what new information is provided every time the shot changes. How long does each shot last and what type of shot transitions are used? How does this affect what you understand from what you see? Discuss how each new shot should provide new information and impressions. The pace and transition of shots also contribute to meaning.

  • Watch the film and note sequences where the filmmaker chooses to show us Joan and her friend talking in medium shot or close-up? Discuss why these shots are chosen at those moments? What’s the connection between the camera distance and what they are talking about?

Analysing

  • In pairs or threes, conduct interviews in roles such as Joan and her friend, talking about their experiences of the war.

  • Ask students to try to reconstruct what questions the interviewer would have asked Joan and her friend.

  • Discuss feelings of loss, love and memory.

  • Read a selection of war poetry from the women who were left behind in both world wars (for example, Scars Upon My Heart).

  • Compare this film with a fictionalised account of the home-front experience during the war, such as The Land Girls (David Leland, 1998).

  • Discuss: Why do countries go to war? What is the human cost of war?

  • Research the causes of World War II and the role of the air force.

  • Use clips from The Battle of Britain (Frank Capra, 1943) which includes archive footage of spitfires in action to try to recreate the atmosphere of the era. In particular discuss the film’s reference to 16 year olds with eight hours flying experience being ordered into the air at the height of the German attack.

  • Look at archive film from the war or extracts from The Battle of Britain (Frank Capra, 1943) and discuss what it might have been like to live through those times and events. Pay particular attention to the references to the age and experience of the pilots when the battle reached the height of its intensity.

Creative

  • Write an article based on the interviews, modelled on interview-based magazine articles.

  • Using appropriate images from the film, design film posters that market I Expect Joan Feels The Same to (a)a young audience and (b) to an older audience. Prepare presentations on the posters – who they will appeal to and what marketing techniques they demonstrate.

  • Write a poem as if you were waiting for news of a loved one who had been sent to war.

  • Imagine Joan has just received the telegram telling her of her husband’s death. Write an open letter in which she expresses how she feels about losing him and how she views her future without him.

  • Imagine it is now two years since Joan’s husband died, and she has his child to care for. She wants to write a letter that explains all her feelings and memories of her husband, for her child to read on his/her sixteenth birthday. Write the letter.

  • Locate and download images of aircraft, pilots, squadrons, crews and any archive footage to make a short non-fiction film in Movie Maker or iMovie.

  • Imagine that this film is the first part of a documentary about war and the loss that ordinary people suffer because of it. Discuss, plan, script and perform the narrative that would introduce this film and the summary that would segue this section into the next section of the documentary.

  • History: research and production of a documentary about World War II.

  • Music: Research the music of the war era, for example, the big band sound. How might it be used in this film? How would it change the film?

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-075-C
Resource Rights Holder Rachel Millward, Birds Eye View
Project Ref RLS-04
Year of Production 2003
Genre Documentary
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Social studies, Religious and moral education
Who Sophie Williams (Director, Producer)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Non-Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Death, Love, War, Memory, Adaption, History
Clip Length 04:00