Leslie Kelly, Terra Nova High School, Pacifica, California
Julius Caesar 1.2.30-224
What's On for Today and Why
Today, students will learn about framing, a visual device used by directors to subtly lead the viewer to conclusions about the characters on the screen. Students will create a storyboard (sketched representation) that uses framing to convey information about the characters. Finally, students will watch and analyze a film version of the scene.
This lesson will take one to two class periods to complete.
What You Need
Folger edition of Julius Caesar
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Julius Caesar, film directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, with Marlon Brando, 1953.
What To Do
1. Show students the 7 images—photographs from Folger Theatre and other productions, available below—and discuss the different framing techniques used in the images: close-ups, foreground/background positioning, and height levels. How does the framing technique influence our perception of a character in terms of his/her power?
2. As a class, read 1.2.30-224, then break students up into small groups. Ask each group to agree on which one character holds the power in the exchange of dialogue: Cassius, Brutus or Caesar?
3. In groups, ask students to work together to create a storyboard of the scene—a visual depiction of a performance through individual drawings—that demonstrates the power of one character through framing. This should be at least two pages long and each page should contain eight individual drawings. Remind students that stick figures are acceptable, as long as each character in the frame is identified by name or initials. Also, they will need to indicate where in the text the frame change will come by writing the line of dialogue that reflects the change under the frame.
3. Show the Mankiewicz film version of this scene (1953, with Marlon Brando) and analyze its use of framing: discuss which character has the most power here. How did framing techniques contribute to this effect? Students should write a topic sentence explaining which character seems to have most power, supporting this in a paragraph or essay with their observations from the film.
How Did It Go?
Were students able to produce convincing power portrayal through their own use of framing? Did students find visual clues in the film or photographs to indicate which characters the artist intended to portray as powerful?
If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.