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Silent Film Acting Movement Unit

Lesson 2: Intro To Silent Film


Silent Film Movement

Lesson 2:

Intro To Silent Film

Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their knowledge of how movement can cre-ate meaning by analyzing different examples of movement in performance.

Materials Needed:

- Five Film Clips that Demonstrate Movement
- Analyzing Movement in Silent Film Worksheet - Lesson 2.Analyzing Movement in Silent Film
- A Silent Film (The General )

Hook –

Have the lights off when students enter the room. Invite students to sit wherever they would like. Play film clips without sound and have students observe actor movements.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding Clip - Starting at 6:50. Scene at the travel agency.

A League of Their Own - There’s no crying in baseball scene.

When a Stranger Calls - The call is coming from inside the house!

Rear Window - Caught in the act. Stop after a minute or two.

The Break-Up - Argument scene.

After each clip, ask students what they observed. What was going on? How could you tell? Describe what the actor was doing with his/her face? Body? Was it effective? Why or why not?
Why do you think these things are important?

Journal Entry

Ask students to get their journals and answer the following prompt:

How is body language and important tool in storytelling and conveying meaning Body language is an important tool in storytelling and conveying meaning. - What do I mean by that?

Below their journal entries, have students take a couple of notes as you talk about the different kinds of movement in theatre.
Inform students that movement is an essential part of performance. As actors, our bodies are instruments and can be powerful tools in telling stories if we know and understand how to use them. There are three different kinds of movement in theatre:
1. Movement from Place to Place – Just what it sounds like
2. Gestures – Using our hands, arms, face & body to communicate non-verbally. (We also use gestures to add to our verbal communication.)
3. Stage Business – What we do with our bodies on stage. Are we fiddling with a prop, sitting with our legs crossed, knitting a sweater, etc?
Along with the 3 basic types of movement there are two basic styles of movement…

1. Realistic – The imitation of the natural actions people perform every day (ex. talking on the phone, eating, walking up stairs, etc.). If everyday movements are exaggerated this is still real-istic movement, it is just a little more dramatic.
2. Stylized – Movements used to create certain effects (ex. mechanical, synchronized move-ments by a group). Symbolic movement also falls under the stylized category. This is done when a conventional gesture is made to stand for something else, like an emotion or a more complex physical activity (checking your wrist for the time might symbolize impatience). Give them a few examples of things you have seen and things they might have seen.


Pass out the “Analyzing Movement in Silent Film” worksheet and have students fill it out during the film. Play the silent film for the class. They won’t be able to watch the whole film, but they will get enough of it to fill out the worksheet.
Stop the film with the last five minutes of class left, and discuss some of the things they saw during the film. Have students turn in their “Analyzing Movement in Silent Film” worksheets & dismiss.


Students will be assessed by their completion of the worksheet.