5 Literature-Related Movies Teachers Can Show in Class

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Are you a high school English teacher looking for an educational movie to show in your classroom? Well, you're in luck! This blog post offers five great options.

Books on Screen

Let's face it, high school teachers don't exactly have it easy. Between lesson planning, grading, instructing, and disciplining, your plate is probably pretty full. Sometimes you just need a break from the constant grind. What better way to give yourself some well-deserved breathing room while still providing educational value to your students than to show a movie? Here are five films you can show in your high school English class on those days that you just need some peace.

Two actors representing Romeo and Juliet

1. Romeo + Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is perhaps Shakespeare's most famous play and one that is taught in almost every high school. It is endlessly referenced and adapted, making it relevant to audiences of every generation. There are many film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, but we recommend going with Baz Luhrmann's 1996 version, the one with the plus sign in the title. (That's how you know it's hip.) Luhrmann's film features Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, and Hawaiian shirts: all things teens love. It modernizes the story by bringing in elements of guns and gangs, but retains the original dialogue, meaning that your teens can connect to it while still being exposed to Shakespeare's language.

2. Dead Poets Society

Peter Weir's 1989 classic Dead Poets Society isn't just beloved because it stars Robin Williams (though that does help). This touching drama tells the story of an inspiring and iconoclastic English teacher who changes the lives of his teenage boarding school students. Williams' character instills a love of poetry in his students, prompting them to carpe diem (seize the day) with their newfound joie de vivre and individualism. Showing this in your classroom might just prompt your students to explore and appreciate poetry for themselves - and inspire you to be as life-changing an instructor as John Keating.

A flapper from the era of The Great Gatsby

3. The Great Gatsby

Another book that is almost universally taught in high schools is F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. This classic is often cited as people's favorite book and might just be the novel to make your students fall in love with reading. To accompany your Gatsby lessons, you can show students one of five film adaptations, the most recent being the 2013 version - also directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film features actors your students will probably recognize (Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan), as well as music from current stars like Lana Del Rey, Beyonce, and Jay Z. All of these elements will be able to grab your students' attention while they are exposed to the most important themes and symbols from the novel.

4. Stranger than Fiction

2006's Stranger than Fiction is a great movie to accompany lessons about narration. The film tells the story of Harold Crick (played by Will Ferrell in a rare dramatic role), who discovers his life is being narrated by a disembodied voice, making him realize that he is a character being written into a novel in which he will shortly die. The movie explores the classic literary theme of free will, which you can easily connect with novels you have taught. You can also use it as an example of omniscient narration.

Midnight in Paris

5. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen's 2011 film Midnight in Paris tells the story of a frustrated American writer who finds himself accidentally traveling back in time to the 1920s, allowing him to rub elbows with some of his most admired authors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. You can show this film as part of a unit on 1920s literature, letting it spark a discussion on the lives of famous authors from the film and Parisian salon culture.

What are your favorite films to show in your classroom? Let us know on Twitter @studydotcom.

Looking for online educational materials to supplement your literature lessons? Check out Study.com's in-depth literature guides.

By Daisy Rogozinsky
October 2018
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