GE|Adults|Advanced|8. History through Film

Answer the questions

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  1. What movies based on historical events do you know?

2. Which scenes do you find the most impressive? Why?


Discuss the pictures with your teacher

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Speculate about the quotes

«If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.»

— Michael Crichton, US author

«War does not determine who is right — only who is left.»

— Bertrand Russell

Look at the pictures. Have you seen any of these films?

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A Gladiator directed by Ridley Scott, 2000 B The Great Escape directed by John Sturges, 1963 C 12 Years a Slave directed by Steve McQueen, 2013

Choose the items mentioned in the texts

Listen to the audio and do the exercise

The scenes you’ll never forget

Three film critics chose their most memorable moments

Gladiator, which won five Oscars, tells the story of a Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, a favourite of the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. The Emperor wants Maximus (Russell Crowe at his best) to succeed him, but Commodus, the Emperor’s weak and treacherous son (wonderfully played by Joaquin Phoenix), has other plans. Commodus kills his father and becomes Emperor himself, and arranges for Maximus and his wife and child to be executed. Maximus escapes, but cannot save his family. He is captured and sold as a gladiator, and eventually makes his way to the Colosseum in Rome, where he becomes a hero by engineering a spectacular victory against overwhelming odds. In this gripping scene Emperor Commodus descends to the arena to congratulate him — not knowing his true identity. Maximus removes his helmet and confronts the Emperor in one of the most stirring speeches in modern cinema: ‘My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the north, general of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance in this life or the next.’ And somehow, we just know he’s going to get it!
The Great Escape is set in a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during the Second World War. The camp is supposedly «escape-proof», but the British and American prisoners (played by an all-star cast) are determined to get out. They dig three tunnels and forge identity documents in preparation for a large-scale escape attempt, 76 prisoners manage to crawl through a tunnel and get away. Most are quickly recaptured, but in this legendary scene, Captain Virgil Hilts (played by Steve McQueen) steals a motorbike and a German uniform and tries to get over the Swiss border. Coming to a roadblock, he breaks through and gets away, despite being shot at, but is immediately pursued by German troops. He rides across open countryside in a desperate bid to reach safety, and eventually gets to the border. But two high fences separate him from Switzerland and freedom. He jumps the first, but becomes hopelessly trapped in the second, and is forced to surrender. The Great Escape is always shown in the UK at Christmas, and however many times you’ve seen it before, you still hope he might just make it over the second fence.
12 Years a Slave, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2014, is based on the memoir by Solomon Northup in which he describes how, despite being free-born, he was kidnapped in Washington D.C. in 1841 and sold as a slave. Northup worked on plantations in Louisiana for 12 years before his release. The book was written in 1853, eight years before the American Civil War began. It was this war that led to the abolition of slavery in the USA. One of the most famous scenes is the hanging scene. It comes after Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) gets pushed too far by his slave master and attacks him. He is punished by being hanged from a tree in such a way that the rope around his neck is always choking him, but his toes can touch the ground just enough to keep him from being strangled. As it goes on, and director Steve McQueen refuses to let you look away, you start to realize that all the other slaves have gone back to their normal lives. Work starts up again, children go back to playing, and you realize how common excruciating experiences like this must have been for slaves, and how thoroughly they must have been separated from their own sense of humanity.


The scenes you’ll never forget

Three film critics chose their most memorable moments

A

Gladiator, which won five Oscars, tells the story of a Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, a favourite of the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. The Emperor wants Maximus (Russell Crowe at his best) to succeed him, but Commodus, the Emperor’s weak and treacherous son (wonderfully played by Joaquin Phoenix), has other plans. Commodus kills his father and becomes Emperor himself, and arranges for Maximus and his wife and child to be executed. Maximus escapes, but cannot save his family. He is captured and sold as a gladiator, and eventually makes his way to the Colosseum in Rome, where he becomes a hero by engineering a spectacular victory against overwhelming odds. In this gripping scene Emperor Commodus descends to the arena to congratulate him — not knowing his true identity. Maximus removes his helmet and confronts the Emperor in one of the most stirring speeches in modern cinema: «My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the north, general of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance in this life or the next.» And somehow, we just know he’s going to get it!

B

The Great Escape is set in a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during the Second World War. The camp is supposedly «escape-proof», but the British and American prisoners (played by an all-star cast) are determined to get out. They dig three tunnels and forge identity documents in preparation for a large-scale escape attempt, 76 prisoners manage to crawl through a tunnel and get away. Most are quickly recaptured, but in this legendary scene, Captain Virgil Hilts (played by Steve McQueen) steals a motorbike and a German uniform and tries to get over the Swiss border. Coming to a roadblock, he breaks through and gets away, despite being shot at, but is immediately pursued by German troops. He rides across open countryside in a desperate bid to reach safety, and eventually gets to the border. But two high fences separate him from Switzerland and freedom. He jumps the first, but becomes hopelessly trapped in the second, and is forced to surrender. The Great Escape is always shown in the UK at Christmas, and however many times you’ve seen it before, you still hope he might just make it over the second fence.

C

12 Years a Slave, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2014, is based on the memoir by Solomon Northup in which he describes how, despite being free-born, he was kidnapped in Washington D.C. in 1841 and sold as a slave. Northup worked on plantations in Louisiana for 12 years before his release. The book was written in 1853, eight years before the American Civil War began. It was this war that led to the abolition of slavery in the USA. One of the most famous scenes is the hanging scene. It comes after Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) gets pushed too far by his slave master and attacks him. He is punished by being hanged from a tree in such a way that the rope around his neck is always choking him, but his toes can touch the ground just enough to keep him from being strangled. As it goes on, and director Steve McQueen refuses to let you look away, you start to realize that all the other slaves have gone back to their normal lives. Work starts up again, children go back to playing, and you realize how common excruciating experiences like this must have been for slaves, and how thoroughly they must have been separated from their own sense of humanity.


  • to succeed somebody [sək’si:d] — to come next after somebody/something and take their/its place or position
  • executed [‘eksıkju:tıd] — killed somebody, especially as a legal punishment
  • against overwhelming odds [ə’genst ,əʋvə’welmıŋ ɒdz] — against something that makes it seem impossible to do or achieve something
  • a helmet [‘helmıt] — a type of hard hat that protects the head
  • a commander [kə’ma:ndə] — a person who is in charge of something, especially an officer in charge of a particular group of soldiers or a military operation
  • a prisoner-of-war camp [prıznə əv wɔ: kæmp] — a guarded camp where prisoners of war or political prisoners are kept
  • to recapture [ri:’kæptʃə] — to catch a person that has escaped
  • shot [ʃɒt] — fired a gun or other weapon
  • troops [tru:ps] — soldiers, especially in large groups
  • to surrender [sə’rendə] — to admit that you have been defeated and want to stop fighting
  • kidnapped [kıdnæpt] — taken away illegally and kept as a prisoner, especially in order to get money
  • a civil war [‘sıvl wɔ:] — a war between groups of people in the same country
  • hanged [hæŋd] — killed by tying a rope around somebody’s neck and allowing them to drop


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Complete the sentences with the words and phrases from the texts

Match the words and pictures

  • arrow [‘ærəʋ]
  • machine gun [mə’ʃi:n gʌn]
  • bow [bəʋ]
  • missile [‘mısaıl]
  • bullet [‘bʋlıt]
  • shield [ʃi:ld]
  • cannon [‘kænən]
  • spear [spıə]
  • helmet [‘helmıt]
  • sword [sɔ:d]



Match the words and definitions

  • ally [‘ælaı]
  • casualties [‘kæʒuəltiz]
  • civilians [sə’vıliənz]
  • commander [kə’ma:ndə]
  • forces [‘fɔ:sız]
  • refugees [refju’dʒi:z]
  • snipers [‘snaıpəz]
  • survivors [sə’vaıvəz]
  • troops [tru:ps]
  • the wounded [‘wu:ndıd]
  • ceasefire [‘si:sfaıə]
  • civil war [‘sıvl wɔ:]
  • coup [ku:]
  • rebellion [rı’beljən]
  • revolution [,revə’lu:ʃn]
  • siege [si:dʒ]
  • treaty [‘tri:ti]


People


Events

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Complete the sentences with the verbs from the list in the correct form


Verbs

1. The rebels overthrew the government.

2. Fighting broke out between the rebels and the army.

3. The army shelled the rebel positions.

4. The rebels retreated.

5. Some of the rebels surrendered.

6. The rebels blew up the airport runway.

7. The government declared war on the rebels.

8. Some rebels looted the city.

9. The army captured over 300 rebels.

10. They finally defeated the rebels.

11. The army released most of the rebel prisoners.

12. They executed the rebel leader.

Give the definitions to the words given

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1.
to steal things from shops/stores or buildings after a riot, fire, etc
11.
a person who has been forced to leave their country or home, because there is a war or for political, religious or social reasons
2.
thin sticks with a sharp point at one end, which are shot from a bow
12.
a person who is kept as a prisoner, especially in a war
3.
to surround a building, city, etc. with soldiers until the people inside are forced to let you in
13.
a large piece of metal or leather carried by soldiers in the past to protect the body when fighting
4.
a weapon that is sent through the air and that explodes when it hits the thing that it is aimed at
14.
to remove a leader or a government from a position of power by force
5.
an object such as a knife, gun, bomb, etc. that is used for fighting or attacking sb
15.
a formal agreement between two or more countries
6.
having won a victory; that ends in victory
16.
a time when enemies agree to stop fighting, usually while a way is found to end the fighting permanently
7.
a person who shoots at sb from a hidden position
17.
injured by a weapon, for example in a war
8.
a sudden change of government that is illegal and often violent
18.
a small metal object that is fired from a gun
9.
if an army withdraws, or if it is withdrawn, it leaves a place
19.
a weapon with a long wooden handle and a sharp metal point used for fighting, hunting and fishing in the past
10.
people who are killed or injured in war or in an accident
20.
a country that has agreed to help and support another country, especially in case of a war

Say what the difference is between the following words

  • an arrow and a spear
  • survivors and refugees
  • a coup and a revolution
  • a ceasefire and a treaty
  • withdraw and retreat
  • defeat and overthrow

Complete the chart

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Fine-tuning your pronunciation: changing stress in word families.
It is useful to learn words in «families», e.g. capture (noun) — a captive (person), revolutionary (adjective) — to revolt (verb), etc. However, you should check whether the stressed syllable changes within the «family».



Choose the stressed syllables in all the multi-syllable words. Then listen and check and practise saying the sentences

noun — person — adjective — verb

  • - / - - capture
  • - commander - -
  • - executioner - (-) - execute
  • history - - / historical - (-)
  • - - (-) - loot
  • rebellion - rebel - - rebel
  • revolution - revolutionary - -
  • siege - (-) - - besiege
  • - survivor - - survive
  • victory - victor - - (-)

 


capture, captive/captor, captive, capture

  • command, commander, commanding, command
  • execution, executioner, execute
  • history, historian, historic/historical
  • looting, looter, loot
  • rebellion, rebel, rebellious, rebel
  • revolution, revolutionary, revolutionary, revolt
  • siege, besieged, besiege
  • survival, survivor, surviving, survive
  • victory, victor, victorious


  1. The rebels were captured and executed.
  2. All the captives survived the siege.
  3. It was a historic victory.
  4. In the end, the revolutionaries were victorious.
  5. The troops rebelled against their commander.
  6. Historians disagree on the causes of the rebellion.

Watch the trailer

— I want to ask you what part of the county you come from.
— I originate from Canada. Now guess where that is.
— Oh I know where Canada is, I’ve been there myself.
— Well-travelled for a slave.
— Solomon Northrup is an expert player on the violin.
— I was born a free man. Lived with my family in New York…
— Be good for you mother.
— ’till the day I was deceived…
— To Solomon.
— …kidnapped, sold into slavery.
— Well boy. How do you feel now?
— My name is Solomon Northrup. I’m a free man.
— And you have no right whatsoever to detain me.
— You no free man. You’re nothing but a Georgia runaway.
— A man’s servant that don’t obey his lord shall be beaten with many strikes.
— That’s scripture.
— The condition of your laborers is all wrong.
— They’re my property.
— You say that with pride.
— I say it as a fact.
— Speak!
— Man does how he pleases with his property.
— You come here. I said come here!
— Days ago I was with my family, in my home. Now you tell me all is lost?
— If you want to survive, do and say as little as possible.
— But I don’t want to survive… I wanna live.
— I thought you’d know something.
— I did as instructed. There’s something wrong with the instruction.
— Master brought you here to work. Any more will earn you a 100 lashes.
— I know what it’s like to be the object of master’s lash. But in his own time, the good Lord will manage them all.
— I will survive! I will not fall into despair! I will keep myself hardy ’till freedom’s opportunity!
— I was a free man… I’m not a slave.

Think of a film or TV series and prepare a description of a scene

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Describing a scene from a film or a book

In this legendary scene, Captain Virgil Hilts (played by Steve McQueen) steals a motorbike and a German uniform and tries to get over the Swiss border. Coming to a roadblock, he breaks through and gets away, despite being shot at, but is immediately pursued by German troops.

We normally use the simple present («the dramatic present») when we describe a scene from a film, or the plot.


  1. Prizes the film won.
  2. The book the film is based on.
  3. Where and when the film is set.
  4. Who the main characters are and who they are played by.
  5. What the film is about.
  6. One of the most memorable scenes.
  7. How the director’s decisions affect the scene.
  8. How it makes you feel.

Label the pictures


Choose the correct word

Choose the stressed syllable in the following words

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Click on the word with a different sound. Then listen and check

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1. bike, ally, sniper, shield

2. boot, troops, bullet, wounded

3. tree, besiege, treaty, weapon

4. horse, war, sword, declare

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Match the opponents to the battles. Then read the article once to check your answers


Five important battles from history

Every age of human history has experienced battles that have been instrumental in moulding the future. Below are five of the bloodiest and most pivotal battles ever fought.

Read the article again and choose the correct answer from the battles described. The battles may be chosen more than once

Five important battles from history

Every age of human history has experienced battles that have been instrumental in moulding the future. Below are five of the bloodiest and most pivotal battles ever fought.


Match historical facts with the battle


Look at the highlighted words and phrases and complete the definitions below with the words in the same form

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Listen to two women talking about historical films they have seen. Complete the summary

1. A film, a historical film I’ve seen fairly recently, um is Gandhi, it’s set in India, um, its starts in about 1840s and moves into sort of 1915 and onwards, it’s a true story of um one man’s life and his principles and his ultimate power, to lead a country to freedom, um in doing so overcoming and facing prejudice and hatred towards himself and um his fellow Indians. Um, my best sort of scenes are, there’s one early on in the film, um when he addresses his fellow Indians in South Africa, um and he gives a really powerful speech and his message is so, is about them standing up and facing the prejudice head on but with, but always entirely peacefully, never using any fighting and um, never striking anyone, and it’s just a really powerful scene.

2. I really loved the film Elizabeth. It stars Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I. It’s all about her reign and the trials and tribulations of her love life which were pretty complex. I think my favourite scenes would be all the ones in which she stars with Joseph Fiennes. They play lovers in the film, er, but it is an illicit relationship and I just think their chemistry on screen is quite magnificent.


Урок Homework Курс
  • Warm-up
  • History in the making
  • Lexis in context
  • Warfare
  • Military verbs
  • What's the word?
  • Word stress
  • Describing a film
  • Warfare and conflict
  • Word stress
  • Great battles
  • Historical battles
  • Movies