The goodbye

[Episode 5 | 1968 : Sofia]

The family gathers to say goodbye to Michaelis as he leaves for national training. It is a time of reconciliation for Sofia and Janice.


The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Leaving
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war; Relationships
  • As a class, discuss the emotional context of the scene and respond to these questions:
  1. What mood does the scene create for the viewer?
  2. How does the filmmaker do this? Look at the use of the camera and the body language to construct the feelings as everyone says goodbye to Michaelis.
  3. Discuss how students think the adults are feeling in this scene, particularly Michaelis's mother and Janice.
  4. What is the fear of people going off to fight a war? Listen to the background sounds and discuss the purpose of the emergency sirens heard.
  5. Why do you think the filmmaker added these sounds to the scene?
  6. What does sound contribute to the emotional context here?
  • As a class, discuss the music in the scene as the taxi drives away and describe the mood.

  • Drawing on information gained from earlier research on the Vietnam War, have students write a letter from Michaelis to his family after he has arrived in Vietnam. They should use visual imagery to describe the country. Have students think about the following questions in writing this letter:
  1. How would Michaelis be feeling?
  2. What sort of things would he want to share with his family to make them feel he was happy and safe?


Activity 2: Peace and symbolism
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war; Beliefs
  • Janice draws attention to the badge on Michaelis's hat. Ask students if they know what the badge means and, if necessary, explain that it is a peace symbol. Discuss the peace badge; what does it mean? Draw attention to the way the filmmaker has used the camera to keep the audience focused on the badge in this sequence.
  • Ask students to respond to the following questions:
  1. Why does Janice advise Michaelis to remove the badge?
  2. What does this badge tell the audience about Michaelis's views about war?
  3. Why is this important to the story?

  • The slouch or digger hat is an important Australian symbol. Ask students to research the history of the slouch hat and find out when was it incorporated into the Australian army uniform.
  • The peace symbol is universally recognised. Asks students to find out who designed it and what the symbolic elements of this design are. Ask students to find other symbols of peace and compare the symbolism of each.
  • Ask students to design a symbol of their own. The symbol or logo could represent peace, environmental protection, reconciliation, unity or any other issue they may wish to explore.


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