Introduktion og formål
This material focuses on writing skills and analysing the term “happiness”. The lead character in the film has to write a recount about incidents that have been exciting and happy. Therefore, the main task for the pupils will be to produce a written recount focusing on happiness. They will also complete tasks related to the special film effects and other themes.
The tasks involve describing the main characters and the two themes of the film. Furthermore, students will also complete tasks relating to the narrative model and they will complete a creative task relating to sound effects.
- Parent-child relationship
Engelsk efter 7. klassetrin
Kompetenceområde: Mundtlig kommunikation og skriftlig kommunikation
Kompetencemål: Eleven kan deltage i kortere samtaler og give korte, sammenhængende fremstillinger af almindelige situationer og emner på engelsk. Eleven kan forstå og skrive kortere tekster i forskellige genrer på engelsk
Færdigheds- og vidensområder: Samtale, lytning, læsning og skrivning
Film og forforståelse
‘H for Happy’ is an Australian feel-good film with a philosophical point of view – given that it concerns the concept of happiness. The tasks for this material also focus on characterisation and parent-child relationships as well as friendship. The film is especially suited for this target group as the world is seen through the eyes of a 13-year old girl. The film bears a resemblance to the film 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' due to its use of strong colours. The film is based on the book ‘My Life as an Alphabet’, written by Barry Jonsberg. It has won various film prizes, including at the Berlin Film Festival.
Before the film, discuss what the pupils already know about the topics and what they know about Australia in general. This will help prepare them for what the film might be about – and the words they already know will be activated.
‘H for Happy’ is an Australian feature film about a girl who is given the task of writing a special assignment at school. She has to write a recount – a retelling of something that has happened in her life. Each student in the class is given a letter to start their retelling. Candice gets the letter H.
At the same time as she is working on her assignment, she also tries to reunite her family after her sister's cot death. Her mother is having a hard time recovering from her sister's death and as a result, she spends a lot of time in her bedroom. Her father works his way through the loss of the sister. He spends most of his time sitting in the basement and working on a computer program. Fortunately, Candice also has happy moments in her life. She loves going to school because she is inquisitive and thinks creatively. She also has her rich uncle, who gives her experiences and acts as a light in her life. Her uncle and father no longer talk to each other because of a business idea that did not end well. Her father accuses her uncle of cheating him, so the two no longer talk to each other.
One day, the girl gets a new classmate at school – a boy named Douglas. Douglas has fallen from a tree and now suffers from notions that he comes from another dimension and that he needs to try and return there. In many ways, the two children are alike as they are both trying to get back to something that once was. The girl sets out to save both Douglas from "going back to another dimension" and the family from being divided. That is what she decides to write her recount about.
In the final scenes of the film, Candice performs her recount for all the parents in the class. Through her attempts to make the family happy again, she has found that happiness is not something you can give but something you yourself should want to be. Candice and Douglas perform a song by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers (‘Islands in the Stream’) to everyone's great delight. The family is reunited and Douglas no longer wants to go back to the other dimension.
The relationship between parent and child has changed because the sister has died. The main character, Candice, is left to her own devices and she is struggling to find happiness again. She desperately wants the family to reunite and for her mother to turn back into the person she once was. The way the mother used to be is shown to us through flashback. Her father no longer talks to her uncle and Candice wants the two of them to be reunited.
At school, Candice has no friends. She is the typical kind of girl who gets picked on because she likes school and homework. When Douglas arrives, she comes to be friends with him. Their friendship grows into love. The two children have a lot in common and they help each other out when things get tough.
Cinematic EFFECTS: Sound effects
Sound effects set the mood in a film. You can interpret underlying themes by listening to the sound effects. Colours are also important to understand the genre or the mood in the different scenes. In this movie, there are many sound effects added to the scenes and the bright colours throughout the film are reminiscent of cartoons. This makes the topics and themes of the film seem a little bit not-so serious. In one of the scenes (a flashback), the mother is portrayed in an almost dream-like fashion. The way she used to be before the tragic death of the younger sister is filmed as if the past were a dream.
DRAMATURGY: The narrative model
The focal point of the film is finding happiness. The film follows a well-known pattern in the narrative model which begins with an introduction of the characters and the main problems. After the appearance of Douglas, the pace of the film starts to pick up. Candice makes many attempts to fix whatever problems the family might be going through, but each time without success. When things cannot seem to get any worse – after Douglas has jumped from a tree – all of the problems start to dissolve. When Candice comes to terms with how happiness works towards the end of the film, all of the problems disappear.
GENRE: A mix of genres
When watching a film, we want to define what kind of film it is. It might be a love story, a fairy tale, a crime story, a comedy or a thriller. ‘H for Happy’ is difficult to define as just one genre. There are a few tell-tale signs. The sound effects added to some of the scenes might make one think of the comedy genre, and the same goes for the bright colours used. The failed attempts at making her family happy and the strange horse, which reappears, might relate to fantasy, but all of these genres mixed together can relate to the drama genre.
You can read the monologue here:
"My name is Mrs XXX and I’m the relief teacher. This does not mean that I have an invisible target between my eyes or that you should confuse me with a human being. Mrs. Banfort is unfortunately ill and will be away for a few days. In the meantime, I am in charge. You are to work on your open day presentations and you will work in silence! RIGHT!"