The Archibald Prize

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

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The Archibald Prize is arguably the most prestigious and iconic portraiture award in Australia. Since its commencement in 1921 at the posthumous bequest of J.F Archibald, a former co-owner and editor of The Bulletin, the Prize has been the cause of much controversy and media attention, consolidating the career of many artists. Whilst it isn’t the highest paying Australian portraiture prize ($100,000 to the Moran’s $150,000), it is far better known, and for good reason, with J.F Archibald’s edict stating that the portraits are to be ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’. As such, the Archibald has oft depicted well known people of varying degrees of celebrity: politicians, actors, musicians, sports stars, other artists (à la Ben Quilty’s portrait of Australian icon Margaret Olley in 2011).

As we fast approach the centenary of the prize with today’s announcement of the 2018 winner, Yvette Coppersmith’s ‘Self-portrait, after George Lambert’, the Prize has demonstrated how portraiture has moved strictly from realism to a more emotive mode of painting. This was first particularly noted after the controversy surrounding the now infamous painting ‘Portrait of an Artist (Joshua Smith)’ by Sir William Dobell (whose portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore is featured on the Australian $10 notes)which won the prize in 1943, calling into question the nature and guidelines of portraiture, with the work being contested in the Supreme Court of New South Wales by two other entrants for falling into the genre of caricature as opposed to portraiture and thus not eligible for the prize. Nonetheless, their verdict was overturned and the Archibald has continued to be a demonstration of the changing face of art within Australia.

In 2014, there were over 130,000 tickets sold to the finalist exhibitions for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes, and it is an event that attracts over $1 million in profit each year, with that number only climbing. There is criticism that it is, to quote gallery owner Michael Reid, ‘a media circus’ as opposed to a respected art prize. Regardless of opinion, it has undoubtedly cemented its place in the Australian art world and provides a platform for artists such as Ben Quilty, Del Kathryn Barton, Yvette Coppersmith, Fiona Lowry and more to be recognised outside of the often introspective sphere of the art world.

Portraiture is so often stereotyped as a stoic, bygone form of art, with Dobell stating during the Joshua Smith case that ‘so long as people expect paintings to be simply coloured photographs they get no individuality and in the case of portraits, no characterisation. The real artist is striving to depict his subject’s character and to stress the caricature, but at least it is art which is alive.’ That is not to say that realism is out dated and irrelevant, but that the nature of portraiture goes beyond capturing a physical likeness of the subject. It is perhaps this unique insight of the artist, particularly when applied to so many notable figures in Australian culture, that has made the Archibald Prize the icon that it is today.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources in relation to this subject. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

The Archibald- Welcome to the Archibald (S01E01)

The Archibald- First Strokes (S01E02)

The Archibald- D Day (S01E03)

The Archibald- And The Winner Is (S01E04)

Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery- Ben Quilty

Artscape Paths to Portraiture

Art Nation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lest We Forget

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

laura-goodsell-335009-unsplashANZAC Day is one of the most momentous days on both the Australian and New Zealand calendars, marking the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915. This was one of the first major military actions on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand forces in WW1, with the campaign resulting in the loss of more than 8,000 Australian lives, with over 60,000 Australian lives being lost over the course of WW1. ANZAC Day has thus come to commemorate the sacrifice of all those who served and protected their country, not only in WW1, but in every war, conflict and peacekeeping operation that has followed since.

Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years prior to the landing at Gallipoli, and the ANZAC legend has undoubtedly formed a foundational part of our national identity. The 25th of April serves as an occasion on which to honour the camaraderie, bravery and sacrifice of our troops in protecting the freedom of our country and Australian way of life. It is an opportunity to reflect upon the contribution of friends and family members, both past and present, and to pay our respects to those who built the values by which we uphold ourselves to on a national scale.

‘Lest we forget’ is one of the seminal phrases of the ANZAC tradition, and for good reason- it is an occasion of commemoration and serves as a constant reminder to never forget the imprint of every person who has contributed to the protection of our nation, commencing with many of our ancestors in Gallipoli. Understanding the history of this contribution is unquestionably a key part of continuing the ANZAC tradition and giving it the full scope and honour that it deserves.

As ANZAC Day approaches, it is a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon its history and significance, and how it continues to influence our lives to this day. Here at TV4Education, we wholeheartedly believe in the enduring influence of education, and understanding the sacrifice, history and stories of the ANZACs and the role they played in the formation of our cultural identity is undoubtedly a part of that, so that this tradition will be perpetuated for generations to come. Lest we forget.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources in relation to ANZAC Day. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

Lest We Forget What

Gallipoli Symphony

Gallipoli (1981 movie)

Monash- The Forgotten ANZAC

ANZACs- Remembering Our Heroes

ANZAC Girls- Adventure (S01E01)

Deadline Gallipoli Part 1 (S01E01)

ANZAC Day National Dawn Service Canberra

 

 

Soup Cans and Superstars: How Pop Art Changed the World

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

cris-tagupa-606858-unsplashPop art is one of the seminal art movements of the mid 20th century: brash, bold and instantly iconic. Whilst it was arguably initiated in Britain, it took root in the advertisements and commercialism of the modern American landscape, designed to appear lightweight and vacuous. However, as host Alastair Sookes states in the documentary Soup Cans and Superstars: How Pop Art Changed the World, pop art has far more depth than it is often given credit for, being utilised to ‘expose the dark side of the American dream.’

What exactly is pop art? In 1957, pop artist Richard Hamilton defined it as the following: ‘popular (designed for a mass audience); transient (short term solution); expendable (easily forgotten); low cost; mass produced; young (aimed at youth); witty; sexy; gimmicky; glamorous; and big business.’ In short, it seeks to emulate the industry of its eponymous popular (pop) culture, mass media and advertising that it so often commentates on, bringing commercial art into the gallery.

Unlike many art movements, à la Dadaism, Futurism, Symbolism, Realism, Surrealism, Cubism and more, pop art wasn’t initiated with a strict manifesto regarding its boundaries or its foundation. However, like many of these movements, pop art plays with the boundaries of what is considered to be art, creating syncretism between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. The majority of the pop art movement was formed in isolation, made cohesive by the spirit of the time rather than commonality with other artists. Indeed, as curator Henry Geldzahler stated to Andy Warhol, ‘It was like a science fiction movie- you pop artists in different parts of the city, unknown to each other, rising up out of the muck and staggering forward with your paintings in front of you.’

Many famous pop artists, such as Warhol and James Rosenquist had their start in advertising. Their artwork often plays with the concepts of consumerism, celebrity and media, of mass reproduction, and the advertising ideal of happiness being a commodity. Advertising as we know it today had its genesis in the late 1940’s and 50’s, with the introduction of television advertisements, and pop art, coming to the forefront in the 1950’s and 60’s, was very much a reactionary framework for artists. As Sookes notes, pop art ‘holds up a mirror to the times… in all its Technicolor, tarnished glory.’ Against the backdrop of the Cold War and in a post WWII society, the glossy façade of celebrity and mass media was increasingly apparent, with the dichotomy between their projected optimism and artist’s cynicism being a frequent theme, prominently displayed in works such as Warhol’s ‘Marilyn Diptych’, Rosenquist’s ‘F-111’ and Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!’

Pop art is a unique movement, in that in often directly participates in perpetuating the very aspects it is commenting on. A perfect example of this is Warhol’s infamous ‘Factory’, which cemented him as one of the first ‘business artists’, a model that has found favour with many contemporary artists (Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst spring to mind). Warhol’s method of screen printing allowed him to mass produce his work, this mechanical, accessible art style being a direct representation of Western consumerism, with Warhol noting that what was wonderful about America was that they ‘started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola… you know that the President drinks Coca-Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca-Cola… you can drink Coca-Cola, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke.’ This is further extrapolated in his famous ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’, playing with everyday, highly recognisable imagery, and in doing so, taking art out of the gallery and into everyday life.

Whilst pop art is often intrinsically linked with the golden age of advertising in America, Sookes is also quick to note that it didn’t only find its home in the U.S.A. Pop art stretched to Britain, France, Germany and the USSR, often finding its beginnings as protest art. However, it consolidated its place in China’s late 20th century economic boom, as they embraced political reform and opened their doors to Western society. Long after the NY Times had declared the pop movement as ‘dead’, pop art found new life in China’s ‘tiger economy’ of the 1980’s, something that has continued into their current day art scene, reflecting an inherent fascination with the deeply embedded role that the nation has in the culture of consumerism and mass production.

Pop art is one of the major art movements of the mid 20th century, however, its reach stretches far beyond the typical association with the so called ‘golden age of advertising’ from the 1950’s and 60’s. Pop art has undoubtedly informed our perception of art today, serving as a direct commentary on our culture and influencing the business model of many current artists, utilising mass production and an assimilation of popular culture as a means of furthering their reach. The documentary Soup Cans and Superstars is an excellent resource in the study of this fascinating movement and will undoubtedly assist students in their understanding.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

Soup Cans and Superstars- How Pop Art Changed the World

Alan Cumming on Pop Art

Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein

A Guide to Pop Art

Behind the Artist- Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

TED-ED Lessons Worth Sharing- A Brief History of Graffiti

I Was There- The Great War Interviews

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

stijn-swinnen-259744-unsplashI Was There- The Great War Interviews is a fantastic resource for students studying World War I. Extrapolating upon the original 1964 documentary series The Great War, this documentary provides a deeper look at the original collation of 280 eyewitness interviews, with never-before-seen footage of both soldiers and civilians. Thus, it provides invaluable insight into the behemoth that is WWI.

It is often easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer scale of an event like WWI, whereas I Was There- The Great War Interviews offers a deeply personal perspective, with interviews from a broad range of primary sources, from celebrated author Mabel Lethbridge O.B.E, soldiers Sebastian C. Lang, Charles Carrington, Wilhelm Eisenthal, factory worker Katie Morter, and many more.  In addition to this, both the Allied and Central sides are represented, thus significantly minimising any inherent bias.

Whilst the overall strategic and historical outlines are not discussed in great detail, the documentary explores the human relations of the war, such as the methods of recruitment, be it women using white feathers to represent cowardice, propaganda posters, the utilisation of music hall stars like Vesta Tilley, pro-war effort music and film, etc., all designed to solicit enlistment. It also showcases the changing attitudes of towards the war, from the initial excitement and euphoria to the grim realisation of the horrors of the battlefield, with soldier Frank Brent stating that ‘…it (the war) required that we should live in animal conditions… inevitable that we would develop the animal characteristic of killing.’

Furthermore, the documentary successfully displays the disparity between soldiers and civilians, with former soldier Charles Carrington stating ‘one was seemingly annoyed by their (civilians) attempts to sympathise… which only really reflects that they didn’t understand at all’, whilst Mabel Lethbridge noted a ‘…a strange lack of ability to communicate… to tell us (civilians) what it was really like… They were restless at home… They didn’t want to stay home. They wanted to get back.’

The battlefield is displayed as a kind of microcosm, running from being ‘an inferno’, with the apparent need to ‘exact retribution’ from the enemy, to the Easter and Christmas armistices and the ‘deceptive peace’ that fraternisation with the enemy brought, with men singing together in the trenches, exchanging gifts and addresses for after the war.  The documentary aims to explore multiple facets of the human experience of the Great War, recognising that to focus on only one would be to vastly limit its representation of this vast moment in history.

I Was There- The Great War Interviews proves to be a deeply personal look at a time in history that has deeply rooted itself in our collective psyche. The utilisation of such a wide range of primary sources will certainly be of interest to students and assist in broadening their understanding of WWI.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education just search for the titles below on your site.

I Was There- The Great War Interviews

Lest We Forget What- The Commemoration of WW1 and the ANZAC Legend

100 Years of ANZAC: The Spirit Lives 2014-2018, World War 1, Conscription (S01E21)

The Panzer

World War I’s Tunnels of Death- The Killing Fields (S01E01)

14 Diaries of the Great War- Into the Abyss (S01E01)

The War that Changed Us- Answering the Call (S01E01)

 

Fry’s Planet Word: Babel

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

patrick-tomasso-71909-unsplashWhat is the value of language? Indeed, why is it something that we study, or devote the slightest iota of attention to? ‘Babel’, the first episode of Fry’s Planet Word, presented by Stephen Fry, explores this very notion, focussing upon the origins of language as a uniquely human concept, helping both teachers and students to gain a greater understanding of this foundational method of communication and thus obtain a greater appreciation, both of its importance and how it continues to shift and develop over time.

At its root, language is the grounding method of communication, but it does far more than that, with the acquisition and development of our utilisation of language being, according to Fry, ‘the most complex bit of brain processing that we know of.’ It goes beyond an animalistic need to communicate fear, hunger, danger, etc., becoming a nuanced social medium that differentiates vastly from person to person based upon a multitude of factors: the particular language you speak, the breadth of your personal vocabulary and manner in which you use it, the register that you use, whether or not in is appropriate to use idioms and colloquialisms regarding the situation, the list goes on and on. In short, language is something that uniquely identifies us, but also allows us to find commonality and communicate with those around us.

At present, there are approximately 7,000 languages in use today, varying from a handful of users, to over a billion. Whilst many of these languages differentiate in their conception of sentence structure, complexity, breadth of vocabulary, whether or not they are vocalised (in the case of sign language), the vast majority are made up of the same basic components: nouns, to identify things; adjectives, to describe them; verbs, to tell you what they do. It is from the use of these building blocks that much of what we identify as being a uniquely human quality springs from, a sinuous and consistently changing lens through which our worldview is shaped, in addition to allowing other people to share in our perspective.

Fry demonstrates the pervasive and fundamental nature of language in ‘Babel’ through a myriad of ways: the initial acquisition of language as the documentary tracks 15 month old Ruby over a one year period, philology, the comparisons between the Turkana language and English, how communication methods between animals are vastly different than those explored in humans, the determining factors on if a language flourishes or dies out, how our brains are affected by language use, and many other topics.

‘Babel’ proves to be an informative and uniquely insightful glance into the value of language and how it underpins so much of our daily lives, and will prove to be of particular interest to English and Language students as a supplement to their primary studies.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education just search for the titles below on your site.

Fry’s Planet Word- Babel (S01E01)

The Sound of Aus (2007) 

TED-ED Lessons Worth Sharing- The Controversial Origins of the Encyclopedia

How I’m Discovering the Secrets of Ancient Texts

 

Raising Pompeii

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

caitlin-wynne-462953-unsplashRaising Pompeii, presented by Michael Buerk, provides a fantastic introduction to the study of Pompeii. It is a unique resource in that it showcases the former Roman port city in all its former glory, thanks to state-the-art computer imagery, in addition to its current state. Thus, it helps students to straddle the necessary perspectives of any historian: past and present, and the unmitigated correlation between the two.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD undoubtedly consolidated Pompeii’s place in history. Located along the Bay of Naples and once considered one of the gateways to the Roman empire, Pompeii was once home to an estimated 12,000 people. Today, it hosts approximately 3 million tourists every year. What is the reason for this intense fascination? Is it merely a sense of morbid curiosity surrounding the deaths of those who died in the Plinean eruption on August 24th, 79 AD? Mayhap, but it is also due to the fact that it is so rare for us to be offered such a holistic look at life in an ancient city. Pompeii is certainly unique in this regard, the very eruption that devastated its inhabitants also serving to make a lasting vignette of their lives, due to the thick layer of ash and pumice that was wrought over the city during the pyroclastic flow.

Indeed, Buerk concerns himself primarily with the notion of bringing ‘this city back to life’ and the lives that those in Pompeii led, not their grisly demise. Aided with computer generated reproductions, Raising Pompeii showcases Pompeii as it would have been in the 1st century AD, drawing on a wealth of knowledge from an array of archaeologists and historians such as Dr Sophie Hay and Peter Ellis. Every aspect of life in Pompeii is explored, from the agricultural industry, made possible by the rich volcanic soil, their production of wine and the infamous fish sauce garum, their imports and exports as a port city, diet, entertainment and even the utilisation of cosmetics are all discussed, as Buerk leads us through a sweeping look at life in Pompeii.

However, Buerk is also sure to provide specific examples of Pompeian life, leading us through the niche Porta Marina district and the house and bar of Sextus Pompeius Amarantus, showcasing the value of hospitality within Roman society as a platform with which to demonstrate your status, be it via the grand atrium or the food that was offered to guests, consolidating the class divide within Roman culture. He also demonstrates the importance of the forum within Roman society, be it as a political, religious (as showcased by the dominating presence of the temples of Jupiter, Apollo and Vespa) or social platform. We also delve into the importance of sports within Pompeian society, particularly gladiators and the Roman taste for the macabre. Buerk takes us around the amphitheatre, a veritable monolith of architecture and the first stone structure of its kind in Italy, made to host up to 20,000 people. Overall, every aspect showcased serves as a heady reminder of the might and grandeur of the ancient Roman empire.

Raising Pompeii serves as a fantastic introduction to the world of Pompeii and Ancient Rome in general, and will undoubtedly serve to pique student’s interest beyond the events of the eruption, providing a broader context with which to ground their study.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education just search for the titles below on your site.

Raising Pompeii

Pompeii Life Before Death

Pompeii Cellar of Skeletons

Pompeii- New Secrets Revealed

The Other Pompeii- Life and Death in Herculaneum

Shakespeare For Today

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

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William Shakespeare is undoubtedly one of the greatest playwrights in history, and likely the best known. His work is still broadly studied and performed worldwide, more than four centuries after his death- so how has his work acquired a stereotype of being fusty, irrelevant and difficult to decipher?

Whether or not you are aware of it, Shakespeare’s work has cemented itself in the collective conscience of our society. For example, look at these common sayings and idioms: a foregone conclusion, a sea change, a sorry sight, dead as a doornail, all’s well that ends well, be all and end all, foul play, green eyed monster, hot-blooded, a charmed life, lie low, in a pickle, in stitches, I have not slept a wink, night owl, up in arms, woe is me, wild goose chase– the list goes on and on. What do these have in common? They were all originally coined by Shakespeare.

Perhaps one of the greatest errors in the study of his work is to concentrate solely upon the transcriptions of his plays: Shakespeare counted himself as a playwright, and thus his plays are designed to be performed to an audience as a visual medium, and not limited to the page. Given a performance of his work, the cadences of language and utilisation of techniques such as metaphor and iambic pentameter immediately become apparent to students, opening up the apparent barriers between our modern English and that of Shakespeare’s day. This allows students to better utilise their knowledge of the themes and motifs being explored within his work, rather than being bogged down by individual stanzas, without understanding the broader context of the act, or indeed the piece as a whole.

Indeed, perhaps the reason Shakespeare has been such an enduring influence upon our society is due to the commonality of the human experience that is explored within his work. Whether you are studying works as fanciful as the comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream or the romance The Tempest, his histories or his tragedies, they are all rooted in the tribulations, the joys, the melancholy and the general experience of what it is to be human. Love, loss, revenge and political intrigue are all common threads within his work, and it is largely for this reason that Shakespeare has stood the test of time- think of any popular film, television series, book or popular culture phenomenon, past or present, and they will likely be grounded in at least one of these things. Shakespeare was considered a vastly accessible playwright in his time, with every class coming to view his work. To be accessible to so many, he had to tap into the commonality between them all.

Another common error in studying his work is to purely view Shakespeare’s work through our own 21st century lens, without consideration for the historical, social and political context in which he was writing in. The culmination of this is often a sense of isolation and irrelevance on the part of students, or a complete misrepresentation of the original themes, such as an overt attachment of colonialist overtones to The Tempest. Whilst the universality of his plays and the exploration of our current context is an important addition to any textual study, it is just as vitally important to hold in consideration the viewpoints and broader context that Shakespeare was writing in.

As has been established, it is a necessity to study Shakespeare using a range of methods and angles, in order to better consolidate our understanding and bring his work to life. Here at TV4Education, we have a vast collection of material to better assist with this. Be it the fantastic Shakespeare Uncovered series, that delves into the context that Shakespeare wrote the play in whilst also examining how it the work continues to evolve, its relevance in today’s society, and the different facets that are explored by different actors, productions and scholars; or Lenny Henry Finding Shakespeare, a witty, down-to-earth look at how Shakespeare was originally for everybody, how this has changed over time, and how to rectify this; or the numerous of productions of his work in our collection, from Richard II, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest and many more.

Whilst close study of the written text is an important facet, viewing Shakespeare in action and accessing  a variety of perspectives through the medium of multimedia will prove to be an invaluable tool and addition to the classroom. The amalgamation of these learning techniques will foster an increased appreciation of Shakespeare’s work, something that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education just search for the titles below on your site.

Shakespeare Uncovered – Series

Lenny Henry Finding Shakespeare

The Taming of The Shrew

Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare Animated – Series

Horrible Histories Special Sensational Shakespeare

Othello

Hamlet

Insults by Shakespeare

Relates to Australian Curriculum Codes;

ACHAH070, ACDSEH059, ACELA1500, ACHHS070, ACHHS086, ACHHS124

Churchill’s Darkest Decision

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Video Highlights

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In light of the Churchill documentary available through the Foxtel Movies Channel, Sophie, our new lesson planning pro, has put together a detailed review just for you.

Richard Bond’s 2009 documentary, Churchill’s Darkest Decision, provides a fascinating look at Winston Churchill’s initiative to mobilise the controversial naval Operation Catapult in July 1940. Bond’s primary focus is upon the Attack of Mers-el-Kébir in Algeria, in addition to the catalysts that culminated in this event, which resulted in the death of 1,297 Frenchmen within 10 minutes- at the time it was the highest death toll of any naval action since the commencement of World War II.

Churchill’s Darkest Decision details the rapidly shifting allegiances of WWII, demonstrating the often fickle nature of alliances in the face of this nouveau warfare and the overt threat of Nazi Germany. Key personalities such as Admiral François Darlan, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Mackenzie King, James Somerville and Marcel-Bruno Gensoul are all noted, with Bond deftly exploring the closely interwoven political machinations of these figures in regards to Churchill.

However, the documentary isn’t limited to the perspectives of these figures, providing a further revelation into the complications of warfare via the utilisation of primary sources such as Robert Philpott (HMS Hood) and Léon le Roux (Battleship Dunkerque). Both men were teenagers at the time of the attack, serving on the British and French navies respectively, and are called upon to relay their indignation and horror at Britain turning upon their former allies, noting the confusion, the screams and bloodshed of what later became referred to as the ‘French Pearl Harbour.’ Many who were serving were ignorant of France’s changed political status, with France having surrendered to Germany only weeks prior- thus many Frenchmen believed that the British were coming to aid them, rather than open fire.

This political ignorance stands in stark contrast to the greater landscape of Churchill’s administration, the latter extending back to the genesis of his time in office (May 10th 1940). Operation Catapult was a direct result of several factors: a broken agreement between France and Britain’s terms for capitulation; the necessity of obtaining favour from the US in order to obtain naval aide; and the looming threat of the combined forces of France, Germany and Italy’s naval resources. Because whilst Britain had the largest navy, it was spread exceedingly thin over Britain’s vast empire, and their numbers didn’t compare to the aforementioned trio.

Bond establishes an immersive atmosphere, be it via the contents of Churchill’s numerous telegrams to President Roosevelt, the newsreels and primary footage surrounding and of the event, the displays of reactionary Nazi propaganda or the dichotomy of the reaction of the home front and the House of Commons in contrast to the recounted horrors of the front line. And whilst the primary focus is upon the events of Mers-el-Kébir, Bond ensures that the naval escapades of Alexandria, Britain and the scuttling of ships in Toulon are all included.

Overall, this documentary is a fantastic addition to the study of WWII, the personality of the eponymous Churchill and the intersecting nature of political and military forces. Whilst it provides a brief vignette of the pivotal event that was WWII, it also provides students with a great example of the effectiveness of collating a variety of sources, in addition to clearly demonstrating the pressure-cooker environment that was the Churchill government.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post.

Churchill’s Darkest Decision

Churchill (2017)

Churchill and the Fascist Plot

Churchill’s First World War

Relates to Australian Curriculum Codes;

ACHMH130, ACHMH131, ACHMH132, ACHMH134, ACOKFH019, ACDSEH088, ACDSEH021