Teacher notes - Le Havre

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Le Havre is a 2011 comedy-drama film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. Marcel Marx, a former bohemian and struggling author, has given up his literary ...

Teacher notes - Le Havre Brief synopsis of the film Le Havre is a 2011 comedy-drama film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. Marcel Marx, a former bohemian and struggling author, has given up his literary ambitions and relocated to the port city Le Havre. He leads a simple life based around his wife Arletty, his favourite bar and his not too profitable profession as a shoe shiner. As Arletty suddenly becomes seriously ill, Marcel’s path crosses with an underage illegal immigrant from Africa. A dock worker in Le Havre hears a human sound inside one of the containers in port. The police of Le Havre and French border guards find a group of illegal African immigrants still alive inside the container. On the sign from one of his elders, a young teen boy among the illegal immigrants manages to escape, news of which hits the local media. The first friendly face that boy, Idrissa, encounters is that of Marcel Marx. Marcel and friendly neighbours and other townspeople help to hide him from the police. The police inspector may, or may not, be hot on their heels. Marcel decides to help Idrissa by hiding him in his house. Marcel goes to great lengths to find out Idrissa’s story, which leads to Marcel’s further task of trying to get Idrissa to London, his original destination where he can find his family.

Description of activity and suggested uses Activity 1

Scaffolded mind map. Students have a photo of one of the characters (Arletty) surrounded by “mind map” bubbles containing questions about Idrissa. They also have statements which they drag to the appropriate mind map. Paper versions of the task are also available.

Skills covered This matching exercise tests reading comprehension and students’ knowledge of the film. The task can be completed by an individual, or discussed orally by groups of students. Students can create similar tasks for other characters in the film, using generic type questions starting with Qui ? Pourquoi ? Quand ? Où ? Que ?

Teacher notes - Le Havre Activity 2

Mind map without ‘scaffold’. Students have a photo of one of the characters (Idrissa) surrounded by “mind map” bubbles containing questions about her. This time, however, they have to answer the questions themselves. Examples of possible answers are given as a check.

This reading and writing exercise tests reading comprehension and students’ knowledge of the film. The task can be completed by an individual, or discussed orally by groups of students. Students can create similar tasks for other characters in the film, using generic type questions starting with Qui ? Pourquoi ? Quand ? Où ? Que ? and expect their fellow students to provide answers which can then be checked by the class or the teacher.

Activity 3

Removing a character. This task essentially asks students to evaluate the contribution of the chosen character (Marcel Marx) to the film. Students are required to read a character description and evaluation and to summarise the essentials.

Teachers or students can create similar tasks using other characters essential to the events in the film, such as Arletty, Idrissa, l’Inspecteur Monet.

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