These three videos associated with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets provide plenty of opportunities to get pupils talking on a film many will have seen.
This teaser trailer is almost without dialogue or voiceover, so it’s a great place to start, and can be used at all levels, with pupils commenting according to their language capacities.
It begins with a nice little idiom to get pupils talking, “Home Sweet Home”. That should be a cue for some pupils to give a basic explanation of the film.
There are lots of opportunities for description, comparisons and modals. One of the first images of the city, with flying vehicles could lead to a comparison with another Besson film pupils probably know, Taxi. The different alien species can be described in comparison to known species: “They have heads like dogs/similar to dogs, but human bodies.” Pupils can also contrast the very obviously “sci-fi” scenes in spacesuits and spaceships, and the scenes on the beach and on a very normal looking bus.
The slogan at the end is almost transparent and reinforces “without”, which can cause pupils difficulties: “A universe without boundaries needs heroes without limits.”
The second teaser trailer is longer and has more language comprehension, so it’s ideal as a second step, or jump straight in with more advanced learners. The dialogue is for the most part relatively simple and clear, understandable from A2. Another little idiom is dropped in, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” The most difficult part is the voiceover between 0’53” and 1’22” “where for hundreds of years, every species has shared their knowledge and their intelligence with each other. It’s paradise. After centuries of peace and prosperity, an unknown force wants to destroy all we have created.” However, there are enough clues in there, and pupils can use their knowledge of the film to build sense.
This featurette describes how Luc Besson first discovered the Valerian comic book and the long process before it became a film. Besson speaks accented English – a great example for pupils that you can get your message across even if you get the odd irregular preterite wrong! It also includes a brief scene of Valerian actor Dane DeHaan speaking to Jean-Claude Mézières, who drew the comic book and worked with Besson on The Fifth Element. Besson gives a good simple description of the comic book, main characters and setting. There are lots of behind-the-scenes making-of special effects shots, and he gives some information about the effects. B1 pupils can understand the video as a whole. It’s long for A2 and would demand a very sustained effort. You could pick out an extract or two, either the beginning with Besson and Mézières, or 1’33”-2’23 when Besson introduces Valerian and Laureline.
Photo credit: Vikram Gounassegarin – © 2016 VALERIAN SAS – TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION