Magnolia (1999)
Concept featured in clip: Environmental indicators
Location of clip: DVD: Chapter 11: 2:14-3:35

Play Flickclip Here

Summary of clip: This flickclip depicts frogs falling from the sky in a torrent downpour. The scene begins with the frogs falling into a swimming pool, then into the street and finally we see cars swerve and crash as they slip and slide over the amphibious pavement.
Connection of flickclip to the concept: This flickclip is best described as a "discrepant event." Your students will not anticipate seeing frogs falling from the sky unless of course you reveal the nature of the clip ahead of time, which I strongly advise you not to do. So what is the connection?
Obviously, the director used his creative license in this dramatic scene; however, the conceptual link lies in the way frogs often serve as indicators of the health of an environment. When this "frog shower" occurs in the film, the leading characters are in crisis. When frog populations fluctuate or show signs of distress, generally it is indicative that something is fundamentally awry with the actual environment. [Religious meanings have also been made with the frog shower but those are obviously beyond the scope of this website]
Suggestions to teachers:
1. Suggested questions for students when viewing the clip:

a. What do you notice happening in this clip? Why does it seem so absurd?

b. If I tell you that all the main characters are in a major state of crisis, what purpose might the frogs serve?

c. Provide students with the environmental indicator explanation of the frogs and then invite them to pose questions they would like to investigate further via Internet research. Have the students work in teams in a Coop-Coop structure and present their findings in a mock scientific research meeting format.

d. If possible, contact a state wildlife official and determine if your students could monitor frog populations in local waterways as a way to determine the overall health of the stream, river, or creek.

e. A final note, the film Magnolia gave birth to the idea of this flickclip website!!!