Movies vs. Books

Teaching films in my Lit class is something I’m so 100% committed to. And most of the contemporary educational world would back me up on this; they’re the kind of hip English folks who wouldn’t mind me starting this entry with a passive-voice sentence that ends with a preposition, then having the temerity to start the next sentence with a conjunction.

But (another conjunction!) I’ve been struggling to find the best way to show films to my students. Ultimately, I’d love to have these week-long lectures on a film, opening  their eyes to how a good film uses all of its elements to their full potential. I want to show them how themes are enhanced with visuals, how even the smallest details are there for a reason.

Alas, I’m not quite there yet. I showed To Kill a Mockingbird rather than reading the novel to my 9th graders. I stuck mostly to the themes of the text, letting much of the music, camerwork, and editing slip by unexplicated.  It all has to do with how frustrated the students get with actively engaging a text.  They hate it when I stop mid-paragraph to point something out, and they hate it even more when I pause a DVD to explain how the first shot can tell us so much about a film.

This week, I started showing Lord of the Flies to my 10 graders. They’re reading the book, too. After just two or three times of pausing the movie to explain some elements, the students started sighing and harumphing, hating that I was interrupting the story with inane babble that they could’ve inferred.  It’s something we’ll all have to get used to, I guess.

Conclusion: I’m still an idiot who just loves movies.


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