Personal Response to Documentary

Student Activity: refining a personal response


Use the table below to chart your journey from an initial response to Paul Kelly - Stories of Me to a response that recognises social and cultural influences that can shape your attitudes and tastes.

You can use the interactive form below.

Key questions


Reasons or elaborations

Am I able to identify with a character or situation?

  • Who?
  • What?


What elements of the text invite this? 


What aspects of my context influence this?

  • Experience?
  • Situation?
  • Age?
  • Gender?
  • Culture?
  • Needing to respond for an English lesson?


How have my listening, reading and viewing practices influenced my response?

  • Ability to become involved in the world of the text?
  • Its aesthetic, complexity or variety?


Is my response consistent with a particular reading community? 

  • The English class?
  • Teenagers?
  • Females/Males?
  • Theoretical position?


Reading critically


This activity is designed to explore the role of silence in the representation of Paul Kelly. The opening interviews characterise him as an observer, a great listener, not an open book. He is also described as a bard or a kind of everyman whose voice covers a vast range of people. The opening of the documentary establishes the central concern of the documentary: who exactly is Paul Kelly. Kelly’s hesitant, unelaborated response - I mean, I’m inside him so I can’t describe him – demonstrates how silence can be used to amplify meaning.

General Activity

Student Activity: Exploring the concept of silence and how it operates in texts.


In class, read Carol Duffy’s poems Mrs Darwin[1] and Mrs Sisyphus[2]


Creating: The sounds of silence



The reviews

Once a text goes into the public domain and faces an audience, the process of criticism begins.    This may be formal (in a newspaper, magazine, journal, etc.) or informal (conversations, Facebook blogs etc.). This is referred to as the reception of the text, that is, how it is received by the public.

Class discussion:


General Activity

 Student activity: understanding and writing reviews


In groups, choose one of the reviews below, ensuring that all are covered by the class and complete the table. Use the interactive form below.

Additional reviews may be found at


Features of a review

Your comments

Does the   review

name the film and director


give an overview of the film


discuss what was liked


discuss what wasn’t liked


refer to the film craft?


Are there examples of

a personal comment


film techniques


plot summary






comment on the director


purpose of the film


reference to target audience?


How does the title of the review position the audience?


Find a statement that makes you want to see the film.


Find a statement that makes you think twice about seeing the film.


List the positive words and phrases used in the review.


List the negative words and phrases used in the review.


What is the tone of the review?