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Rescued by Rover (1905)

Featuring a faithful family dog that becomes the hero of the story, this could be considered the forerunner of the Lassie films. In the opening scene we see the dog Rover playing with a baby in the living room. In the afternoon, the baby is taken out by her nurse. A beggar woman asks the nurse for money, but she refuses. While the nurse flirts with a soldier, she takes her eye off the pram and the beggar woman steals the baby. Rover races down the streets until he comes to a collection of slum dwellings, where he finds the beggar woman and the baby. She shoos him away, so he returns home and pleads with the baby’s father to accompany him. Rover leads the father to the beggar woman. The baby is rescued and returned to his mother. Rover skips happily around them.

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  • Who is the hero? How do we know?

  • Who are the other main characters?

  • What type of character is the villain?

  • What kind of story is this?

  • What are the key events?

  • What was the motive of the woman who stole the baby?

  • What is the dilemma?

  • What is the resolution?

Watching

  • Cover the screen and ask pupils to listen carefully to the soundtrack (before showing the film for the first time). List what images the soundtrack might suggest. Also note any feelings suggested by the soundtrack. Then watch the film and compare notes.

  • Stop the film at the point where the villain has the baby in the attic. Predict what will happen next. Encourage explanations of how predictions have been made.

  • Watch with a focus on the camera. Note how little it moves (no pans, zooms or tracking shots). What techniques does the film use instead to bring the action in front of the viewer. Encourage pupils to note that instead of the camera moving it is the characters who move towards the camera.

  • Freeze-frame the buildings and the interiors – discuss their compositions. Observe the final freeze-frame shot, what clues do we get about the status of the people?

  • Watch the scene where the woman steals the baby. Discuss how drama and tension is created through lighting and exaggerated body language. Then watch the scene in the loft, where the lighting comes through the window and the room is half lit. What comment could this be making about her character/personality?

  • Discuss how direction of action creates drama and meaning in a film by comparing the scenes of the dog running and swimming towards the audience with the kidnap scene where the nanny walks away from the camera.

Analysing

  • Make a list of all the causes and effects throughout the film.

  • Discuss the class stereotypes in the film. For instance, you could discuss body language and framing of characters and argue whether this reinforces certain class ideals (the nanny is always lower in the frame than the mistress, the master stands tall in the final scene).

  • Explore examples of symbolism in the film: for example, the use of the bottle as a symbol for both the villain and the baby. Is the dog a symbol? If so, for what? Discuss the significance of the river (could it perhaps represent class divisions?). See if pupils can find any other symbols or binary opposites in the settings, cotumes and characters.

  • Discuss how this film illustrates the phrase ‘A dog is man’s best friend’? Make a list of other films or stories this is similar to (e.g. Lassie, Babe, The Incredible Journey (1963/1993), The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman; The Mystery of the Missing Garden Gnome by Leone Peguro).

Creative

  • Download the film and re-edit it, with new soundtrack, as a news broadcast report of the kidnap.

  • Imagine you are a policeman called out to investigate the incident. Write a report to your police superiors.

  • Design a wanted poster for the villain.

  • Create a stage-play script of the film. What stage directions and asides would be included in your script?

  • Using still images from various points in the film, create a photo-story with written caption.

  • Storyboard key events.

  • Write the narrative.

  • Re-tell the story from the villain’s point of view.

  • Write the nanny’s diary.

  • Compose, record and add a new musical soundtrack for the film.

  • Art and Design: Paint the interiors of the two different houses – compare and contrast them.

  • History: using the library and internet, study the Victorian era, focusing on class divides.

  • Drama: Re-enact some of the scenes with a different hero.

  • History: Compare the houses of the Victorian era with those of today.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-113-C
Resource Rights Holder BFI
Project Ref STSH2-04
Year of Production 1905
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Literacy and English, Social studies, Religious and moral education
Who CM Hepworth (Filmmaker), Lewin Fitzhamon (Filmmaker)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Black & White, Silent
Themes History, Stereotypes, Heroism, Family
Clip Length 05:00