007 heaven in your classroom
James Bond films are as famous for their explosive soundtracks as they are for their cat-stroking villains and convenient life-saving gadgetry.
Now a new education resource is allowing students to add their own sounds to movie scenes to help them learn more about how the audio element of a film works.
This week saw the screen debut of the blond Bond, Daniel Craig, in Casino Royale, the 21st film in a series that stretches back more than 40 years.
To mark the event, a free interactive DVD ROM, produced by Film Education, is being sent to 12,000 teachers of English, media and music at key stages 3 and 4. The resource includes a 30-minute documentary and an interactive section where pupils can manipulate sound elements from the film to create a soundtrack for particular scenes. As the documentary explains, about half of the movie's sound is added in post-production, so those screeching car tyres, helicopter explosions and the dying screams of henchmen falling into vats of boiling oil are all crafted in the studio.
"It's a good opportunity to examine a part of film language that tends to be overlooked," says Jane Dickson, co-producer of the DVD ROM. "We are used to thinking about the visual image first, but these activities get students to concentrate about the audio."
Students are asked first to make notes about the sounds around them, and then apply this to stills from the film, considering the effect of the sound on the images. They also have a script extract and must decide what sounds would best accompany the scene. The most obvious sound would be speech, but in certain scenes in the film there is no dialogue, such as Bond chasing a bomber through a construction site.
Next to be considered is what sounds might accompany still images. A villain's forest hide-out might need chirruping crickets or other natural sounds. Or a poker game at a casino might need a lot of background chatter and, perhaps, some music. Finally, students can use a palette of sounds to create, edit and mix their own soundtrack to a couple of scenes from the film.
Casino Royale was the first 007 book by Ian Fleming in 1953 but, apart from a 1967 spoof version starring David Niven, it has taken more than half a century to reach the big screen