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Film in primary literacy

Links between literacy and film

There are many links to be explored between film and literacy that offer useful points for discussion and extend children’s understanding of narrative texts. Some of these links are found in the things that film and writing have in common: narrative structure, sequencing and chronology, characterisation and setting; and some of which are found in the different ways films and written texts engage their audiences.

Writers choose language carefully to create characters and settings in reader’s minds. Filmmakers however have various techniques at their disposal including costume, make up, set design and special effects. Camera angles and actors’ performances help establish point-of-view and empathy in a film whilst that is achieved through the use of first or third person narration in a novel. Light, colour, sound effects and music all contribute to the mood of a film. A writer uses descriptive and figurative language to create atmosphere on the page. Editing controls a film’s pace and establishes the passing of time. In a book this is determined by time connectives, sentence and paragraph length and the use of chapters.

Many schools have proven that focused, purposeful use of film and ‘visual literacy’ helps to raise standards in reading and writing. Cine-literate children have a more developed ability to interpret meaning, express it and construct it in their writing.