The Scribe

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The Scribe (2018) is a feature documentary written, directed and produced by Ruth Cullen. Graham Freudenberg is an Australian political speechwriter. The Scribe recounts his working life and his enduring legacy.

1000 SPEECHES – 6 POLITICAL LEADERS – 50 YEARS

THE SCRIBE (2018) IS A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY RUTH CULLEN. GRAHAM FREUDENBERG IS AN AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL SPEECHWRITER. THE SCRIBE RECOUNTS HIS WORKING LIFE AND HIS ENDURING LEGACY.

Synopsis

Master speechwriter Graham Freudenberg is the quintessential political insider. Advisor, confidant, master crafter and repository, his influence extends way beyond speech writing.

Graham was an essential part of the formation and articulation of policies which redefined Australia. His powers of expression continue to inspire and transcend while capturing the very essence of why politics matter.

Good speech writers are ghost orators. Not only do they need to get inside the mind of the speaker, they also need to combine the high visions of policy with the brass knuckle realities of political expediency.

Graham has written speeches for Federal and State leaders from Arthur Calwell to Simon Crean. This group includes Gough Whitlam, Neville Wran, Bob Carr and Bob Hawke, who described him as the ‘chameleon’ of speech writers. Over fifty years he has adapted his voice to that of his masters and the times.

The Scribe interrogates the symbiotic relationship between the speechwriter and the orator as it explores the craft of political speech writing from the man who re-defined the role in Australia. In the process, it examines the changing language of the political environment from the introduction of TV to the arrival of Trump.

Graham has written over a thousand speeches and The Scribe takes some of these epic speeches and interrogates common themes, many of which are still relevant – war, equality and the changing nature of power in our parliamentary democracy. Whether we realise it or not, Graham’s words have shaped our views today.

It is Graham’s wonderful ability to combine the high visions of political aspiration with the realities of winning votes that make his insights so significant and relevant. In this time of widespread cynicism about politicians, it is time to step back and ask bigger questions. The Scribe transcends party politics to reflect on the contract between the people and their elected representatives and how that has changed.

CURRICULUM LINKS

The Scribe is suitable for secondary students in Years 10 – 12 studying Civics and Citizenship, English, History, and Media Arts.

Through the study of Civics and Citizenship, students can develop skills of inquiry, values and dispositions that enable them to be active and informed citizens. The Scribe provides opportunities for students to investigate the nature and exercise of political power and the formulation and implementation of domestic and foreign policy.

Learning outcomes:

  • Students develop knowledge and understanding of the nature and exercise of political power;
  • Students analyse political speeches and the impact of these political speeches;
  • Students investigate past Australian domestic and foreign policy issues and consider the response of the Australian Government and Opposition to these issues.
  • ••

One of the stated aims of The Australian Curriculum: English is to ensure that students become confident communicators, imaginative thinkers and informed citizens. Given this aim, The Scribe offers teachers the opportunity to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills within the strands of Language and Literacy.

Learning outcomes:

  • Students learn that language is constantly evolving due to historical, social and cultural changes, and technological innovations;
  • Students learn that the language used by individuals varies according to their social setting and the relationships between the participants;
  • Students develop their knowledge and understanding of how language use can have inclusive and exclusive social effects, and can empower or disempower people;
  • Students identify and explore the purposes and effects of different text structures and language features of spoken texts, and use this knowledge to create purposeful texts that inform, persuade and engage.
  • ••

A knowledge and understanding of history is essential for informed and active participation in society and in creating rewarding personal and collective futures. The study of History promotes debate and encourages thinking about human values, including present and future challenges. The Scribe provides opportunities for students to develop historical knowledge and understanding.

Learning outcomes:

  • Students identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past;
  • Students investigate significant world events and the impact of these events;
  • Students investigate government policies and the impact of these policies;
  • Students critically analyse and interpret primary and secondary sources.
  • ••

In Media Arts, students learn to be critically aware of ways that the media are culturally used and negotiated, and are dynamic and central to the way they make sense of the world and of themselves. The Scribe allows students to explore and interpret human experience through representations in images, sounds and text.

Learning outcomes:

  • Students develop knowledge and understanding of media languages used to tell stories;
  • Students make informed critical judgements about the media artworks they see, hear, interact with and consume as audiences;
  • Students identify ways audiences interact and engage with the media as a result of the growth of digital technologies across media forms.

Teachers are advised to consult the Australian Curriculum documentation for these learning areas online at http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/, as well as curriculum documents for these learning areas endorsed by their state or territory.

An ATOM Study Guide is available for download.