Can you identify different drama elements? Watch the clip and answer the questions then check your responses against the sample answers.
This clip is from the BBC4 drama Burton and Taylor starring Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth Taylor and Dominic West as Richard Burton. Taylor and Burton were world famous actors whose turbulent marriages in the 1960s and 1970s (they were married twice) made tabloid headlines.
What’s the plot (story) of the clip?
The clip shows famous film stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor coming together after their divorce to perform in a theatre production and all the public and media interest this event attracts.
What’s the action in the clip?
Burton and Taylor are shown having got back together professionally after a bitter public divorce. Then the scene moves first to the rehearsal and then to the performance of the play with inserted scenes of their strained personal relationship alongside.
What’s the content of the scenes in the clip?
The scenes contain issues regarding the impossibility of conducting a real relationship that is so much in the public eye. The scenes show statements about alcoholism and violence and the deep feelings expressed through the image of the stage performance.
What does Elizabeth Taylor’s fur coat suggest to the audience?
The fur coat suggests extravagance, wealth and in those pre-animal rights days, glamour. We know this character is rich and successful just by looking at her in this costume.
What elements of contrast can you see in this sequence of clips?
There are contrasts in the way the characters relate to each other. Some clips have both characters laughing and dancing together whilst others clearly show the conflict between them. There is high passion where Richard Burton throws the glass against the wall and then there is quiet resignation when he says,
We’re addicts Elizabeth.
The other contrast is between the characters’ private and public faces. They are all sweetness and light towards each other as they stand united in front of the cheering theatre crowd. This is completely opposite to the furious clashing scenes between them backstage. You could also say the settings here - the large and grand theatre space and the small confined dressing room are in complete contrast to each other.