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I think that showing movies to accompany literary units is an amazing way to reward students and also to show them that text doesn’t have to be written. There is a richness in film that students should be aware of.
When I show a film, I like to show it in its entirety if I have the time. I require that my students complete a Video Viewing Guide, which keeps them paying attention and also helps them to do some critical analysis of the film as they would do in a text. I use the guide to mark places I want to pause the film. We will watch a section, stop the film, and go over the answers for that section of the guide. I know in some districts there is a big push to show video clips only, but I think this is ridiculous in the English classroom. Students need to be exposed to WHOLE STORIES, and this includes film. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Michael Hoffman and starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Kevin Kline, is an amazing film to use in the classroom for several reasons.
1. It is an interesting and very striking interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
3. It is an amusing adaptation, set in 19th century Italy instead of the original Athens, Greece. In fact, parts of it are laugh out loud funny. It also allows students to see it as it was intended to be seen. It is a play, after all, not a novel.
4. It hooks kids into reading Shakespeare.
5. It contains many of the things we want our students to be able to analyze in literature: symbolism, tone, complex relationships, unusual time manipulation, parallel stories, subplots, character development, plot arcs, textual evidence, etc.
This guide is not intended to replace reading the text.