Classroom rule number one: Never smile before Christmas

Two excellent short films. The first is clever and imaginative. The second may induce feelings of vertigo or unsettled stomach – IT”S THAT EXCITING!

So – first – The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemmingway’s book and John Sturges’s film starring Spencer Tracy – now an animation drawn by Marcel Schindler.

I saw this film on the excellent Brain Pickings website. My only quibble with the animation is that the role of the boy is omitted – though, to be fair, he doesn’t board the small boat on the trip depicted.

Next – short film number two. Some of the camera shots may make you queasy. Here’s the film called People Are Awesome.

It’s the going over the edge skiiing shot that has me holding on to the table for balance. Though I suspect it’s the sort of thing Lesley “Get” Carter does every morning before breakfast. I presume they used the same crew as this Carling Black Label advert (based on cameraman Graham Henry’s exploits with Anneka Rice in Treasure Hunt).

The nearest I’ve come is abseiling – though that was pure enjoyment. It’s only the point where you lean back over the edge which feels like a leap of faith. Or  speaking of leaps of faith – bunjee jumping – and once was enough for me. (From a crane over Bridgewater dock, if you’re wondering. My mate kept his eyes closed first time round, so he felt he had to have another go. The mad fool Dave. I persuaded the crane driver to lower him into the water when he finally stopped boiinging. Hee hee.)

The Old Man and the Sea is a great tale. A friend of mine used to teach in a tough school in a tough poor area. The sort of school where pupils might know how to strip down an automatic weapon. You may have heard of the exploits of the young alumni in the news or obituary columns. At times, back then in the classroom, he may have felt daunted by the challenge of teaching in such difficult circumstances. But he pressed on. As you do.

Gratuitous picture of Anneka Rice

He used to read aloud The Old Man and the Sea. Every now and then, many years later, a small boy will approach him while he’s out and about in the city and say “Excuse me, aren’t you Mr …”. – Yes – “You used to read The Old Man and the Sea to my Dad at school. He reads it to me.”

The Dad will be some distance away and nod or wave discreetly. And my friend will derive some small nuggest of vindication. As he should. He made a difference.

The fact that the past pupils tend to send their children to pass on the heart-warming message rather than doing it themselves, may or may not be related to my friend’s stern classroom demeanour. Hey – it was a tough gig. His first rule of teaching was this: Never smile before Christmas.

I mentioned once before that I met the Old Man from The Old Man and the Sea. Happy to hear your tales of stomach-churning adventure or the classroom (if that’s not a tautology).



Filed under art, Film, friends, life

2 responses to “Classroom rule number one: Never smile before Christmas

  1. See my post April 30, 2011 re Hemingway. Spencer Tracy did the part as masterfully as anyone could in movie.

    • 29

      The word ‘awesome’ seemed to be the preserve of American teenagers and could mean anything from quite mundane to quite exciting or just anything but this short film really does show the meaning of awesome. Those guys and girls have my total admiration.

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