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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Value of a Lousy Movie Adaptation

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I showed my students a 1960 movie adaptation of Island of the Blue Dolphins. In the style of its time, the film was overacted and melodramatic. It also cut several key scenes of the book which would have required special effects; therefore, we do not see the battle of the sea elephants, the destructive forces of the tsunami, nor Karana's conflict with a deadly octopus.

Afterward, I challenged my students to write a persuasive letter to a movie production company, suggesting a remake of the movie. They attacked the assignment with gusto since they had loved the book, but disliked the movie. They even took the assignment a bit further, recommending directors, actors, and even locales.

If you can juxtapose two such elements, you'll give students ample fuel for writing passionately. Pair your original book with a movie, poem, television, graphic novel, or abridged novel version.

Here's a note-taking guide you might find useful for viewing a movie. I typically have students create two columns on the back of that sheet which read What They Added In and What They Took Out. Students can also use this Google Drawing doc Persuasive Essay Map for prewriting their letter.

If you've ever had your students compare and contrast two versions of a novel in this way, we'd love to hear your ideas.


Anonymous said...

In my classes, I enjoy having students discuss the "movi-fication" of certain texts. Sometimes, when we are done, students create their own __(insert name here) __ - ification. They take their understanding of the text and re-work it from their own perspective. The products they create with this project include a story board, a movie poster, and "a pitch" to the studio (the rest of the class). The kids love it. I once even had a student pitch through interpretive dance! And it made sense!

Keith Schoch said...

Love those ideas, especially the pitch! So many business ventures rest upon successful pitches which are, after all, persuasive arguments.

I also like your approaches since the original products also give students a chance to create their own visions for what the Movi-fications would look like.

Thanks for sharing!

Kittie Howard said...

Thanks for sharing! I've found that 'Animal Farm' works and elicits responses you experienced.

Keith Schoch said...

That would be a good one. Aren't there actually a couple film versions? I know Lord of the Flies likewise has two different versions, and has also been parodied on a full-length Simpsons episode.

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