This is a film guide to use as a culmination of study on the American Transcendentalists. Students need to have studied "Self-Reliance" and "Nature" by Emerson and "Civil Disobedience" by Thoreau (or excerpts of these pieces from a textbook) and preferably bits of Walden to complete the tasks required.
The student characters in the film all try, to differing degrees, to follow the ideals of non-conformity, self-reliance, non-violent protest, reverence for nature and a respect for personal experience over "learning." All of these are important messages the Transcendentalists idealized. They are ideals though, not practical living advice, as the characters learn through the film. This guide has students identify the characters for clarity, analyze quotations from the main character that sum up these ideals, analyze the use of nature in the cinematography to reflect human emotion as in "Nature" and to decide which, if any, of the boys are able to live by these lofty ideals the Transcendentalists proposed.
Students will show an understanding of the major tenants of Transcendentalism in the analyses and must reflect in the end on the difficulty of living by ideals especially the ideas of Self-Reliance and Civil Disobedience - leading to the short-lived nature of this movement, and later the 1960's hippie movement that borrowed many of its principles.
An answer key is included for easy recall, but is not all inclusive in its answers since these are more open-ended analysis than factual recall.
This lesson addressed Common Core ELA standards RL1, 2, 3, 9, RI 1, 2, 3, 9, SL 1, 4
(I consider the Transcendental texts that are the basis of this lesson to be informational text and the film to be literature)