The relationship between art and violence is a constant theme in literature.

War and conflict, as brutal as it is, has also inspired artists to contemplate alternative ways for people to exist more peacefully.

History is filled with great artists who use their art to ask society difficult questions and often society isn’t very happy to be asked.

In the film Can Art Stop a Bullet? William Kelly's Big Picture, artist William Kelly talks to some of these artists and explores many of the artworks that helped change the world.


View the trailer for the film. In 200 words or more predict what you think the film is about.

Now watch the film as a class


Quick quiz

Name the artists below. You have one minute to answer.


Choose an artist from the film and

  1. Provide a short biography of your chosen artist (200 words)
  2. Explain the impact of one artwork/activity associated with your chosen artist (300 words)

Watch this extended interview with actor Martin Sheen,

In this interview, Martin Sheen talks about a number of issues:

  • Class in America
  • The Irish Troubles
  • Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement
  • The Vietnam War
  • Actors and Politics
  • Counter culture in 1960s America

Research one of these topics and choose a text that focuses specifically on that issue. For instance you could choose, The Great Gatsby for class in America or The Wind that Shakes the Barley for the Irish Troubles or Apocalypse Now for The Vietnam War.


  1. Write a review of your chosen book
  2. Write a short story based on ideas that Martin Sheen talks about in this interview.
  3. Imagine you are a journalist, what questions would you have like to have asked Martin Sheen that are not asked in this interview?



Classroom debate

In the 1960s, some Hollywood actors became involved in political activism, particularly Anti-censorship and Anti war causes. In recent years however it could be argued that celebrities are expected to take political positions on all sorts of issues. Have a class debate on the topic:

Celebrities should stay out of politics

  • Split the class into two groups: one Affirmative and Negative.
  • Each group has 45 minutes to research the topic and develop an argument
  • Each group should choose three speakers: First, Second and Third speakers
  • Choose one student to adjudicate
  • Conduct the debate under timed conditions - each speaker has three minutes to present and rebut.
  • The adjudicator will decide the winner
  • For further information about conducting debates visit the Debating Association of Victoria https://dav.com.au/resources/

Oral presentation

Choose an issue from the film. Research and prepare an oral presentation, which individual students will present to the class. Students can choose from one of the following issues:

  • The gun issue in the USA
  • Reconciliation after conflict
  • Media censorship
  • The role of the UN in the 21st Century
  • The roots of terrorism
  • The Holocaust
  • Media manipulation of war and conflict
Created By
terry cantwell