Movie Title
Director
Rating
Curricular Connections
Themes
How many stars?
Objections
Link to Rationale
The Truman Show
Peter Weir
PG
Understanding how setting affects character.

Understanding characterization.

Understanding the importance of privacy.

Understanding the importance of examining your/a character's circumstances and the elements that comprise your/a character's reality.
  1. It is better to choose your own path than follow the path others choose for you.
  2. Do not trust something without knowing the full truth about it.
  3. You cannot control the actions of others.
  4. [[#|Free]] will prevails over anything else.
  5. Always question your reality: authority, choices you make, and the decisions that shape your life.
8/10
Truman’s friend, Marlon, brings beer to Truman’s house, mentions beer and drinks beer with Truman at least three times throughout the movie. The men, however, are never seen acting drunk. Also, there is mild profanity used twice throughout the movie.
The Truman Show
Slumdog Millionaire
Danny Boyle
R
Understanding character development.

Understanding setting and culture.

Exploring injustice, inequality, and discrimination.

Understanding star-crossed lovers and love thwarted by fate.

Possible textual connections: Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Help, The Namesake, The God of Small Things
1. Sometimes fate makes paths for us; sometimes we make our own destinies.

2. The search for identity is one that lasts a lifetime.

3. Love can overcome even the most challenging obstacles.

4. Sometimes even the people closest to us cannot be trusted.

5. There is hope for redemption for even the most "evil" people.

6. Class or caste does not define us.

7. We must persevere in the face of adversity.
8/10
The film begins with a torture scene that involves electric shock and water torture. A young boy jumps into a pool of excrement after he is locked in an outhouse by his brother. A village of Muslims is terrorized; a woman (the main character’s mother) dies after she is violently hit in the face with a stick, and a man is set on fire. Two children play a trick on another character by putting chilies down his pants. He runs to the bathroom naked, though shadows and camera angles ensure that nothing can be seen besides his backside. An orphaned child is blinded with a hot spoon in order to garner more sympathy when he begs. Coarse language is used once to sexually objectify women. The boys travel to a brothel where couples are pictured briefly lying together; no sex or nudity is shown. Salim shoots a man in the head; no blood or gore is shown. A brief scene of him drinking alcohol is shown shortly after, and it is insinuated that he sleeps with Latika against her will when he shuts his brother out of the bedroom. The host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire says the f-word at 1:35:20.

Stranger than Fiction
Mark Forster
PG-13
Understanding narration.

Understanding free will.

Understanding comedy and tragedy.

Understanding round characters, character transformation and foils.

Understanding symbolism.

Understanding conflict.
1. We have to [[#|work]] hard to rewrite our own stories.

2.We have the power to make our lives either a comedy or a tragedy.

3. Love can transform us.

4. First impressions aren't always correct.
9/10
Sexuality, brief language, nudity, and some disturbing images (such as a man getting hit by a bus after pushing a young boy out of the way).

The Matrix
Andy Wachowski, Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski
R
Literary Criticism, Critical and Interpretive Analysis utilizing Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Post-Modernism, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, etc, Multiple Perspectives
1. What is “reality”?
2. Enlightenment vs. Madness
3. Society as a Prison
4. Knowing Yourself
5. Symbolism
6. What makes us who we are?
7. Dystopia/Utopia
9/10
Overall, the film sometimes lingers at length on action sequences, and kung-fu montages, as well narrowing the perspective of living within such a system to one of outright rebellion through these martial arts methods and violence in general. It does not propose “peaceful revolution” as a viable form.
The Matrix Film Rationale
The Truman Show
Peter Weir
PG
Clear connections to the literature of American Romanticism, specifically the Transcendentalist
celebration of individualism in the works of Emerson and Thoreau
1. How do you define individualism? How do teens express identity in today’s world?2. What general ideas about individualism are expressed by Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman? Can you think of any quotes that reflect these ideas? How are these writers relevant to the film? Explain.
3. The film can be seen as a satire of American culture. What aspects of American culture are ridiculed in the film? Do you agree with these criticisms?
4. Consider the symbolism used throughout the film. What events, objects, locations, relationships, etc. represent conformity? Which represent individualism?
8/10
The film is rated PG partially because of its “mild language,” which is fairly tame by modern societal standards. The profanity is infrequent and can be explained as an element of realism used by the filmmakers to heighten its authenticity.
Truman and his friend Marlon drink beer on two occasions but not to the point of intoxication. Careful consideration of this detail reveals that the beer is used satirically, criticizing product placement specifically and American consumerism generally. Again, this can be easily addressed before viewing.
THE TRUMAN SHOW RATIONALE
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Woody Allen
PG-13
Standard 1.3 L.C.
  • Analyze how authors develop complex characters as well as their roles and functions in a variety of texts.
  • Determine the effectiveness of setting as related to character, plot, and other key literary elements.
  • Determine the effectiveness of the author’s use of point of view as related to content and specific types of genre.
  • Analyze how the author structures plot to advance the action.
  • Identify major themes in literature, comparing and contrasting how they are developed across genres.
  • Explain how voice and choice of speaker (narrator) affect the mood, tone, and meaning of text.
  • Describe how an author, through the use of diction, syntax, figurative language, sentence variety, etc., achieves style.
Crimes and Misdemeanors directly and indirectly connects to many works of classic literature that, if read and studied, could help the viewer better understand the meaning of the film. For example, the relationship of Judah and rabbi Ben mirrors the relationship between Oedipus and Tiresias in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Also, rabbi Ben calls Judah’s action a “small infidelity” when compared to other more serious issues, which mirrors Posthumus’ words in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. This film also contains aspects of the tragic genre, which would allow for a study of Aristotle’s Poetics. The film’s use of eyes and sight as a motif of moral vision connects to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Oedipus Rex. Lastly, the film mirrors Milton’s Paradise Lost in dealing with the thematic question of whether or not the universe contains a greater purpose and order beyond human comprehension.

Crimes and Misdemeanors also illustrates numerous literary devices. Woody Allen utilizes eyes and sight as a motif to represent the characters’ moral and ethical vision. Foreshadowing is used as a way to visually represent Judah’s inner struggle to cope with his dark deeds. There are also many allusions to philosophical thinkers and religious undertones throughout the film.
10/10
Although Crimes and Misdemeanors holds a PG-13 rating, which is quite suitable for upper high school students, possible objections could arise due to a few curse words (no f-bombs), references to sexuality, and a brief image of a murdered woman.
Crimes and Misdemeanors Rationale
Hotel Rwanda
2004
Terry George
A Long Way Gone
The Diary of Anne Frank

You could tie this film to any movie that deals with war, bravery, genocide, hope, etc.
Humanity
Genocide
War
Hope
Bravery
9/10
Objections to this film would be things such as the images of dead bodies throughout, and the immense amount of violence and hatred portrayed. I do think though, that these images are important in getting the entire message of the movie across. I wouldn’t suggest this film to a younger or immature audience. I would also suggest parental consent for the viewing of this film.

Pleasantville
1998
Gary Ross
The Color Purple Farenheit 451
Gathering Blue
Coming of Age
Dystopia
Color
Liberation
Change
10/10
Pleasantville is rated PG-13 because of some mild language and mild sexual content. There are a few short scenes that most adults and teens would understand the sexual activity about to take place. The issues of race is also a major topic in this film, but should not present a problem.


Hercules
Ron Clements & John Musker
G
Reading
Through reading a diverse array of classic and contemporary literature as well as challenging informational texts in a range of subjects, students are expected to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspective. Because the standards are building blocks for successful classrooms, but recognize that teachers, school districts and states need to decide on appropriate curriculum, they intentionally do not offer a reading list. Instead, they offer numerous sample texts to help teachers prepare for the school year and allow parents and students to know what to expect at the beginning of the year.
Writing
The ability to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence is a cornerstone of the writing standards, with opinion writing—a basic form of argument—extending down into the earliest grades.
This film helps students to visualize the seventeen steps of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” which included the departure, initiation, and the return of the hero. The film also introduces Greek architecture such as the Parthenon and Greek pottery in the form of mourning vases, which are seen throughout the film. Drama and literature are very important to Greek society and the tragedies make a huge impact. Show YouTube clips of “Oedipus Rex” and “Euripides” both plays can be downloaded and copied through Project Gutenberg. Followed by selections from the epic poem “The Odyssey” and for visual interest, show clips from Oh Brother Where Art Thou, which is loosely based on the poem. The focus is not necessarily on fictional heroes, but more importantly, real people.
10/10
This film does a pretty nice job highlighting a hero’s journey but sails right through the twelve labors of Hercules, so as the instructor I would discuss the labors but not require the students to point them out.

The King of Comedy
1983
PG
Destiny,
What is equality & fairness?
Does hard work always pay off?
Characterization,
Style,
Hope,
Narration
10/10
Kidnapping scene (comical)