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Living Wigan (1902)

This film buzzes with the energy and vibrancy of street life in the city. Mitchell and Kenyon are filming a steam tram in Wigan in August 1902 and are seen introducing a comic moment into a possibly more formal opening event. The showman actively encouraged the audience to respond to the camera with play-acting.

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  • What modes of transport can you see and what clues does this give us about place and time?

  • What can you tell about time and setting?

  • What can you tell about the characters from the way they are dressed?

  • How many types of people are there?

  • What age do you think the people in this film are? What’s the youngest and oldest?

  • What does the film tell us about these people?

  • How does the soundtrack make you feel about the film? Does it make it more familiar?

  • Why do you think this film was made?

  • Who do you think might watch the film?

  • Which social classes are represented in the films? How are they depicted? Are these films constructed or simply a record of what is happening?

Watching

  • Cover the screen and ask pupils to listen to the soundtrack (before showing the film for the first time). How would you describe this music? What images does it conjure up? Perhaps asks the class to make a list of the kind of images they might expect to see.

  • Screen the film with sound and vision and compare what the class expected to see and what is actually in the film. Discuss if the music and image match up.

  • Why are there no close-ups?

  • Why are medium shots and full body shots used?

  • Whose point of view are these films from?

  • Is the camera moving or still?

  • Is the action taking place at normal speed?

  • Can you find an example of panning?

  • Why have the film-makers used this technique?

  • How many shots are there in the whole film? Add a sentence to describe the action in each shot.

  • This film is in black and white. Discuss what colours we might see if this film were filmed today.

  • Discuss whether this film (along with others in the Mitchell & Kenyon collection) is constructed or simply a record of what is happening.

  • Watch modern-day documentaries to compare features and styles.

Analysing

  • Cover the screen and ask pupils to listen to the soundtrack (before showing the film for the first time). How would you describe this music? What images does it conjure up? Perhaps asks the class to make a list of the kind of images they might expect to see.

  • Screen the film with sound and vision and compare what the class expected to see and what is actually in the film. Discuss if the music and image match up.

  • Why are there no close-ups?

  • Why are medium shots and full body shots used?

  • Whose point of view are these films from?

  • Is the camera moving or still?

  • Is the action taking place at normal speed?

  • Can you find an example of panning?

  • Why have the film-makers used this technique?

  • How many shots are there in the whole film? Add a sentence to describe the action in each shot.

  • This film is in black and white. Discuss what colours we might see if this film were filmed today.

  • Discuss whether this film (along with others in the Mitchell & Kenyon collection) is constructed or simply a record of what is happening.

  • Watch modern-day documentaries to compare features and styles.

Creative

  • Write a recount of one event from the view of the cameraman or participant. Use resources from the library or internet to support your opinions (for example, evidence of different transport or fashion).

  • Make your own documentary of a similar event from the period of the films.

  • Take photographs at school and in the park. Create friezes juxtaposing old and new.

  • For a history project, research transport, clothes, or buildings from the early 1900s. Compare and contrast those in the films with a modern-day event.

  • Art: Print off an old picture as a still and paint over it in the colours you think would be there.

  • Write a dialogue script for the film, choosing some of the characters to speak. Get the class to take on roles and perform their script. Record it and add to a downloaded version of the film in iMovie or Windows MovieMaker to create a sound version of the film.

  • Script or storyboard some new sequences for the film showing some of the characters at work in the factory.

  • Examine the fashion of the early 1900s. Using images from the internet, create a 1901 ‘fashion magazine’.

  • Pick one of the people in the film, and imagine you are that person. Write a paragraph about the day the film crew arrived to film you and your friends.

  • Use the internet to find out more about early archive films.

  • Download all the Mitchell & Kenyon films and then, using Movie Maker or iMovie, edit the films using transitions and sound to create a narrative.

  • Improvise a running commentary as a voice-over or a dialogue to add to the soundtrack.

  • Create a new music soundtrack for the film.

  • Choose footage from all the Mitchell & Kenyon films and edit them to advertise a modern product.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-109-C
Resource Rights Holder BFI
Project Ref STSH2-02
Year of Production 1902
Genre Historical Archive Footage
Curriculum Areas subjects
Who Mitchell & Kenyon (Filmmakers)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Non-Fiction, Black & White, Silent
Themes Audience, History, Fashion, Culture, Society, Gender
Clip Length 02:00