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Tom Sweep — Michael Dudok de Wit, 1992

A frustrated street sweeper fights a losing battle against constant littering from passers-by. Exasperated, Tom Sweep runs after them, catching rubbish before it even hits the ground. He ends up falling and spilling his dustbin everywhere. He sees the folly of chasing people, so instead glares at a man until he dutifully places his litter in the bin. A small victory; and Tom moves on – just in time for another passer-by to rummage through the bin and cover the street in rubbish again.

Classroom Activities

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Critical

  • Watch to specifically pay attention to the character of Tom Sweep. Make notes of what kind of person Tom is, and write justifications/evidence of why they think this. For example, what kind of personality does he have? How old is he? Where does he live? What is Tom Sweep trying to do? Does he like his job? How can you tell?
  • Spot the Shots: watch the film and note examples of all the different types of shots used in the film. Discuss why different shots are used at different points in the story.
  • Look for different camera angles and moments when the camera moves. Discuss what difference it makes in the story when the camera is moving rather than still.
  • Discuss what techniques the film uses to show the passage of time.
  • Screen the film, asking the class to pay particular attention to the music. Listen out for patterns in the music and moments when the music changes. Note what is happening in the story when the music changes. Discuss the connections between images in the film and the music.
  • Introduce composition and mise-en-scène in film. Watch the film looking at the use of colour and composition to create a sense of place and time. Also look at framing in some shots (you could use freeze frame) and discuss what is seen and what isn’t seen – for instance, what might be happening around corners that we can’t see? What clues are given in the film?
  • Ask the class to write a summary of the story after watching the film. Discuss storytelling conventions such as beginning-middle-end structure, conflict and narrative time. Discuss, for instance, how long the story actually takes – is it minutes, hours, a day or more? How does the story convey this?
  • Discuss the use of colour in the film. Would the story be different if it were in black and white (you could try this by altering the colour balance on the TV)? What parts of the narrative disappear when colour is taken away (for example, is it still clear when it is night or day)?

Cultural

  • How does the film make the class feel after watching? Do they feel anything particular about Tom or his predicament? Discuss similar experiences of frustration.
  • Essentially, this story is based around a conflict. Can you think of any other stories, films, etc. that centre around a conflict? What is the conflict? Good vs evil? Old vs young? East vs west…?
  • Introduce the idea of stereotype as a narrative element. Identify people or things in the film that seem to be based on a stereotype. Discuss whether stereotype is a useful or a harmful tool for narrative storytelling.

Creative

WRITE

  • Write a first-person account of a street sweeper/rubbish bin collector, telling of his day, his dedication to his job and the reactions of people in the street to his work.
  • Create a new story dealing with a similar situation but using new characters and settings – for instance, set it in a railway station with a station master, or a shop with a shopkeeper.

FILMMAKING

  • Using cameras/audio recording equipment, conduct vox pop interviews about the problem of litter in the school and local area. Is it a problem and what should be done about it? Create a podcast/news report of the results.

DRAW

  • Design a sign/poster for the school playground to encourage people to put their litter in bins.
  • Design a refuse collection cart or trolley.

PSE

  • Research other people that work for the community, such as police officers, nurses and road sweepers. Find examples and quotes from the library or internet (or students could go out and interview them). Report their findings to the class in a presentation about the importance of public servants and how they are viewed by the public.
  • Create a campaign or hold a competition to clean an outside play area.

STEM

  • Investigate the environmental impact of waste and litter.
  • Create a recycling project for the school, including a system for labelling and classifying different waste items for recycling.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-025-C
Resource Rights Holder Michael Dudok de Wit
Project Ref STST2-08
Year of Production 1992
Genre Comedy
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Religious and Moral Education, Sciences, Social Studies, Technologies
Director Michael Dudok de Wit
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Feelings, Relationships, Work / Ambition, Food / Environment
Clip Length 03:00
Clip Length 03:00
Age Group P1-P4, P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6