TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

FILM STUDY GUIDE FOR TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
SEEING THE FILM THROUGH THE LENS OF MEDIA LITERACY



INTRODUCTION

FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYZING FILM

MEDIA LITERACY

USING TKAM  
ON DVD


CORRELATION TO
TEACHING 
STANDARDS


LANGUAGE OF FILM

SYMBOLISM

LIGHTING

CAMERA SHOTS

EDITING

MUSIC

SOUND EFFECTS

SCREENWRITING

SCREENPLAY

SETTING & 
ART DIRECTION

SCENE ANALYSIS

MOVIE REVIEW

GLOSSARY

MOVIE MARKETING

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SYMBOLISM
"When we read with our students, we often point out all of the relevant 
and important symbols in a story or a novel....We assume that students 
cannot pick up on a symbol on the first read-through, and that may be true, 
since for a symbol to be truly a symbol, it must be repeated throughout a work, 
though students may have difficulty picking out symbols because they do not 
understand the purpose or the function of symbols...so we need to help students see how artists use various techniques to get the audience to
recognize that something is, in fact, a symbol."


Symbolism/Meaning
"After we have isolated a symbol, we must interpret it, that is, match the 
symbol with a meaning that has been previously learned. For example, we 
memorize the definitions of words and the conventions of grammar and 
expression to be able to read. From our experience listening to radio, we know
that certain sounds signal the lead-in to  news, certain voices convey humor 
or seriousness, certain sounds convey danger or silliness. With television or film, 
we learn the meaning of flashback, an extreme close-up on a character's face, 
character stereotypes, and what to expect in the unfolding sequence of a 
detective show. We have learned to connect certain symbols with certain meanings."



Symbolism In The Opening Credits of To Kill A Mockingbird
NEW: Watch the opening credits/ read about them here
Listen to Stephen Frankfurt: the man who produced the opening credit sequence

The objects that appear behind the opening credits include a pocket watch, harmonica, pearl necklace, whistle, marbles, and a child's drawing of a bird- items that gain meaning as the story unfolds. The sequence is a good introduction for the story's symbolism and themes. It also shows (to quote Harper Lee again) how a film can have "a life of its own as a work of art." 
Notice how the camera moves in, like a child's vision, to close-ups of these valued objects, tracking from left to right along the row of treasures carefully arranged. Notice how the nostalgic music and humming of a child create a mood. And notice what happens to the drawing at the end of the sequence.  
3          

ACTIVITY
Students should pay careful attention to the opening sequence in the film. 
Some of the objects are pictured above. Using the chart (below) students 
should complete the form. For each symbol, students should determine: 
what is happening in the scene with the object and what it might mean or represent.

Some items seen in opening
credits of the film     

 Describe the scene 
in which the item is seen/heard  

Symbolism meaning or representing

pocket watch

   
harmonica

   
pearl necklace

   
whistle

   
marbles

   
drawing of a bird

   

The man responsible for the look of the opening credits.


Symbolism continued


See bibliography for all source material cited here 

2003  Frank Baker