Movies to Teach With - Topics/Themes

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Sam R. Aucoin, Aug 12, 2002.

  1. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    Given the nature of the thread, there will obviously be some spoilers as I discussed the movies I listed [​IMG]
    Having recently had surgery, I have had a "good" opportunity to sit down and watch quite a lot of movies. While watching them, it made me think: Aside from the artistic quality or action sequences that many of us like in movies, which movies have a meaning that makes you numb after watching them?
    Addiction to Any Thing
    Requiem for A Dream - for me, a "must see" for my children (when they get older, of course - my oldest is only 10) to show them how addiction of any kind can literally steal away your dignity, your self-respect, your being.
    Traffic - how drugs can affect anyone, from the "dregs" of society to the "Georgetown blue bloods" (I mean no disrespect in the labels - I used them because they convey the meaning without having to explain).
    The Man With the Golden Arm - although not as contemporaneous as Requiem and Traffic, the theme is still there, with a focus on drugs. It shows that no matter how hard you try to stay away, the drugs always have a grip on you. In the end, it's up to you whether you want to let go of that grip.
    Horror
    The Exorcist - the scariest movie I have ever seen-period. Being a devout Catholic and a firm believer in the Devil, it troubles me to this day to watch certain scenes in the movie.
    The Haunting (Wise version) - without a doubt, a true horror classic, especially considering you NEVER get to see what is scaring everyone at the house.
    Prophecy - Walken is the epitome of the "fallen angel". Seeing him perched atop the school looking down on the people below gave me the creeps. And his continual references to man as "little monkeys" blends Darwinism with the Bible.
    Revenge and its Consequences
    Ben-Hur - until Judah embraces the virtue of true love (and its attendant factor of forgiveness of one's enemies), he sees no rest. He is literally a slave to avenging his and his family's wrongful punishment, and even when he sees Messala dying, he still could not let go of the hate. So, contrary to what Gore Vidal says, Ben-Hur IS about Christ, in that it teaches the most important commandment Christ gave to his followers was the "simple" saying: Love everyone, including your enemies. (I am NOT advocating one religion over another - I am simply making a point of what the movie meant to me).
    The Searchers - arguably, John Wayne's finest performance. Right up to the very end of the movie, you don't know whether Wayne will kill the girl or rescue her. For the entire length of the movie, Wayne is driven by revenge. But in the end, even his level of hatred cannot bring him to kill the little girl-one of his own blood.
    Movies that made this "man" cry
    A Man for All Seasons - being a scholar of More, and having him as my patron saint, this movie meant alot to me. I tear up every time I watch his final address to Parliament; written accounts of his entire trial all concur that the judges could barely look at him because of their shameful obedience to an adulterous, murdering bastard who could not keep his pants zipped. Scofield gives a performance that makes one actually think that Scofield WAS More. My only criticism of the movie is that it does not show the depths to which Henry VIII sank up to the time of More's death.
    Jesus of Nazareth - tears really pour when I watch Jesus's Mother hold him after he was taken down from the cross. I cannot imagine the pain of watching one's son being crucified before one's very eyes, seeing him die, and then holding his lifeless body.
    Brian's Song - who would have ever thought James Caan and Billy Dee Williams could pull off a heart wrenching scene like they did for the final phone call between the two? Knowing this was a true story makes one appreciate the movie even more.
    To Kill a Mockingbird - when the black trial attendees all rose in respect for Atticus as he left the courtroom.
    I will try to add more movies and topics later. I hope others participate.
     
  2. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Interesting question, Sam. I'll try to answer using your topics, but you stole most of my would-be choices! [​IMG]
    Addiction to Any Thing
    The Boost - James Woods/Sean Young
    Leaving Las Vegas - Not a huge fan of this one, but it seems to be a somewhat definitive view of horrifying alcoholism.
    When a Man Loves a Woman - A movie I really liked. Meg Ryan battles the bottle while hubby Andy Garcia tries to help.
    Less than Zero - Andrew McCarthy/Robert Downey Jr.
    In the Mood - Patrick Dempsey [​IMG]
    Horror
    The Seventh Sign - Nifty little religious thriller that might not blow you away, but it will make you think a little. Demi Moore/Michael Biehn.
    Rosemary's Baby - Hardcore finale. 'Nuff said.
    The Fly - Cronenberg's version. When the end credits hit the screen, I bet you sit there for thirty seconds.
    Dark City - Not horror, but a brilliantly crafted sci-fi noir with a truly cool ending. (To me, anyway. I absolutely ADORE this movie.)
    Revenge and its Consequences
    Death Wish - Avoid the sequels though.
    Deliverance - Unforgettable flick. See it if you haven't.
    Straw Dogs - Similar to above, only with city-folk.
    The Untouchables - Great (if not exceedingly deep) tale of revenge and honor. "I said your friend died screaming like a stuck Irish pig. Now you think about that when I beat the rap.
    Movies that made this "man" cry
    The Champ - Jon Voight/Ricky Schroeder. First movie to ever make me weep silently, praying to GOD that none of my family members were looking at me.
    Return of the Jedi - No lie: when I saw this movie in the theaters (yes, I'm a member of the 'born in '71 caste, which means I literally grew up on the Star Wars canon), I cried when Vader died. 'Cuz he died to save his son! After three movies of being evil! He saved Luke AFTER ALL THAT!!!! Ahem...sorry. (No, I don't cry any more; now Vader just looks like a pale baked potato wearing an Erector Set beard.)
    Major League - You think I'm kiddin'. It mist up at the ending every time.
    Terms of Endearment - Chick Flick Schmick Fwick. This is a great movie.
    Hoosiers - Dennis Hopper's redemption gets me every time.
    Rudy - Yep, you too. I know, pal.
    Boogie Nights - Just the bits about Moore and her kid. That stuff is SAD. [​IMG]
     
  3. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    Cherishing Life
    It's a Wonderful Life - say what you will about this one being corny, but I watch it every Christmas and I get have the same experience each time: No one should ever pray for death or think his life is meaningless. We do, indeed, touch everyone around us, whether we think we do or not.
    Endings You Did Not See Coming
    The Sixth Sense - sorry guys, but there was just too much in the way that would let this guy wander around for so long and not realize he was a ghost. With that said, I defy anyone to say that he knew the mother would be "outed" as the murderer of her daughter by feeding her poison, and that it was accidentally caught on tape. [​IMG]
    The Verdict - although technically not a true "ending", you can't prevent your jaw from dropping when you hear the nurse say that she made a copy of the original ER admittance form, thereby proving the doctor "doctored" (pardon the pun) the sheet.
    I apologize for the cursing below, but I think the words are appropriate [​IMG]
    = The look on James Mason's face when he heard nurse's testimony: "Oh shit."
    = The look on the jury's face when the judge told them that they could not consider any of the nurse's testimony or the copy: "If you think for once that we are not going to consider this, you are out of your f*cking mind."
    = The look on the diocese's representative's face when the jury asked the judge if they could award more than the plaintiff asked for: "Ohhhh shit!"
     
  4. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    Scott,
    You did what I wanted the thread to accomplish - provide me with some movies that I have never seen (and some I have never heard of):
    The Boost
    Leaving Las Vegas
    When a Man Loves a Woman
    In the Mood
    The Seventh Sign
    Straw Dogs
    Major League
    Thanks [​IMG]
     
  5. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    Addiction to Any Thing
    Requiem for a Dream is defintiely a good choice.
    I don't know if this would count, as it is a TV episode, but the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Hollow Pursuits" from the 3rd season is a good allegorical example of addiction and its consequences. That's the episode that introduced Lt. Barclay (Dwight Schultz), and the episode is about his addiction to the simulated reality of the holodeck, where he says he feels more at home than in the "real" world. Seems to have been a thinly-veiled message to some of Trek's more devoted fans, in that a fantasy life can be healthy as long as you don't let it control you.
    Horror
    Gotta agree with The Exorcist; a very affecting and moving film. The trick is that the characters do seem like real people with real lives, rather than the caricatures in most of today's "horror" movies.
    Revenge and its Consequences
    Ben-Hur: One of my favorite movies. "It is as if you had become Messala!"
    Sorry to bring up Star Trek again, but The Wrath of Khan is a great example of this. Khan is driven insane with his desire for vengeance against Kirk, and there's some great Moby Dick references in there.
    Mercy
    This will sound really weird, but this is what I got out of the end of Pitch Black.
    SPOILERS for anyone who hasn't seen it:
    Earlier in the film, Riddick tells Imam the Muslim that he absolutely believes in God, and he absolutely "hates the f**cker." Later, he asks, "Where is your God now?" Then, of course, when Riddick comes back for the survivors, Imam says "There is my God, Mr. Riddick."
    But the kicker comes when Fry comes back for Riddick, and is carried off by one of the creatures. Riddick falls down, looks up, and shouts, "Not for me!" This kind of parallels Christ's dying for the world's sins: Fry, who wouldn't die for the rest of the passengers earlier, gives her life to save this remorseless murderer.
    I don't mean to "preach" either, but I thought that was kind of an interesting parallel; am I the only one that saw this?
    Movies that made this "man" cry
    Glory: I teared up during the final battle scene the first time I saw this.
    Schindler's List: SPOILER--------At the end: the "present day" sequence with the cast and the real people they portrayed putting stones on the grave.
    Those are just some that I thought of; I'm sure there are more. Good topic.
     
  6. Mike Kelly

    Mike Kelly Stunt Coordinator

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    I once participated in a group dynamics training session involving the film "12 Angry Men":

    1. Each leaderless group should have four people.
    2. Show "12 Angry Men" up to the point where Joseph Sweeney (the old man) changes his vote to not guilty to agree with Henry Fonda. Stop the movie.
    3. Advise the groups that the remaining 10 jury members will change their vote one by one to not guilty.
    4. Charge each group to list the remaining jurors in the order that they will change their vote, based on what has been shown in the film thus far. It's about 30 minutes into the film at this point and the personality traits of each juror has been displayed to some extent.
    5. Show the rest of the movie and see which group came closest to getting jurors in the correct order.

    This not only promotes discussion, leadership abilities, compromise etc., as a group dynamic function, the movie's themes of prejudice and how one's personal baggage and peer pressure affects decision making is clearly demonstrated.

    And its fun.

    I participated in this years ago, before DVD and when "12 Angry Men" wasn't being shown on television and unavailable on VHS. It may be harder to do this today, when many have seen the movie and remember enough of it to skew the outcome.
     
  7. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    Addiction to Any Thing
    Brain Damage - yes, it's a gore movie but it's also very much a message against addiction. Aylmer, the worm-like parasite, gives his host a free first hit of his hallucinogenic "juice". But afterwards, all require a price and the poor addict is driven further and further away from friends and family. I'd say it, in it's own way, is just as powerful as Requiem for a Dream.
    Horror
    The Wicker Man. A wonderully atmospheric movie warning of the extremes that people will go to when following a belief. I also find a message about the nature of religion in general, but I'll stop there.
     
  8. Herm C

    Herm C Stunt Coordinator

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    Horror (my obsession)
    Let's not forget Dawn of the Dead, Romero's scathing commentary on American consumerism. He throws in a little grue and gore too.[​IMG]
     
  9. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    Movies about growing up / taking responsibility / loss of innocence (three very distinct topics that have common themes)

    How Green Was My Valley - The entire film takes place from the perspective of the youngest son Huw, however the movie doesn't focus on him, but on all the things that happen to his family as he's about to enter adolesence, the result is a heartrending film about how a familiy copes with the unstoppable changes of the industrial revolution and how a boy tries to cope with being part of that family. This film is often sneered at because those people never choose to look closer than the fact that it has a boy who becomes crippled and learns again to walk, actually a relatively minor part of the film
    . and on a technical level it is extremely wonderful. It opens and closes with sequences that are shot as a silent film, with pantomine style acting and facial expressions. It smoothly moves into a regular sound film via the (eventually) restrained use of narration. The cinematography is wonderful, as most of it is shot from about Huw's eye level lending to a prominance of slightly low angles throughout the film, reinforcing the idea that it is told from Huw's perspective. the cinematography here is not symbolic or metaphoric in and of itself, instead each shot is used to reinforce themes and aspects of the story. (I could probably go on, but I was going to mention something about several other films).

    Lord of the Flies (1963) - This is breathtaking and stunning adaptation of Goldman's seminal work. the cinematography is generally excellent and performances are for the most part very good, but the low budget shows it's face quite often. This is a disturbing film that touches not only on the responsibilities children may be required to shoulder, but more largely on the behavioral tendancies of all humanity.

    Stand By Me - Many people have seen this film, but it is still one of the finest works about the fleeting and everlasting effects of childhood friends. It focuses chiefly on the last grand adventure the friends will ever have together, and whether that adventure is camping out in one friend's backyard, or sneaking off for the weekend and camping out on what may be a wild goose chase, it doesn't really matter; what matters is the relationships between the characters how they care and feel about one another and act around each other, what they'll sacrifice for each other and what they won't. it's a wonderful film with some excellent performances.

    Empire of the Sun - This is one of, if not the, favorite films of mine. It's a story that is about a fall from grace, and a loss of innocence, about creating worlds and magic from thin air, and living in a world of gut wrenching conditions; it's a tale of survival and betrayal, of longing and awakening, of selfawareness and responsibility of dependence and vunernability, the themes are myriad, diverse, and perfect. The deft blending of childhood fantasy and harsh reality is unparalleled. The cinematography is damn near perfect, every shot is beautiful and nearly all have some additional meaning. The use of parallels (before and afters) as a thematic device yields an incredibly powerful emotional and psychic punch. When you come right down to it, Empire of the Sun is about naiveté, illusions shattered and illusions built, and illusions that will never come down.
     
  10. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    Revenge and its Consequences
    I think that this is an interesting topic, considering that the majority of films extoll the virtue of dishing out vengence in retribution for wrongdoing (for example, Gladiator), but very few examine its consequences and drawbacks. Ben-Hur and The Searchers are good examples, here some more:
    Se7en
    When Detective Mills discovers that John Doe has murdered his wife, he wants to kill him. But by killing him, he would help Doe complete his "masterpiece" kilings representing the Seven Deadly Sins. (Doe as Envy, Mills as Wrath) Doe mentions this aspect of his personality earlier ("How much would you enjoy hurting me with impunity?" he asks Mills.) Mills shoots Doe, and Doe wins, earning noteriety after death, while Mills is disgraced, stripped of his badge, and going to jail for killing an unarmed prisoner.
    Attack of the Clones
    Anakin finds his mother in a Tusken Raider camp, a victim of brutal torture and dies in his arms. Enraged, he slaughters the entire camp, including women and children. Clearly, this is one of the first steps in Anakin's turn to the Dark Side. It's a brilliant representation of the potential of evil in all of us, as I have seen several people in this board and others sympathize with Anakin and actually said they would do the same if they were in his position.
     
  11. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    Bryan:

    And to think, I just finished watching my new special edition of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and never once thought of putting it in the thread. As you said, an EXCELLENT example of how revenge destroys.

    Richard:

    I never really thought of Se7en in the context of revenge, especially considering how short a period of time it took the detective's feeling of revenge to "boil" (less than 5 minutes). But you are correct - it is very instructive in that revenge can be short, or as in Ben-Hur and The Wrath of Khan-long term. In the end, although we may THINK we are satisfied with the result of exacting a toll on the "evil-doer", we never really are.

    And Richard, I must admit that I thought of Star Wars II, but was ashamed to put it in, as I, too, think I would have done the same as Anakin to the Tusken Raiders. I know - it is a sad commentary on the state of my lack of self-mastery, but I suppose I have not yet reached that point in my life where I could let go of exacting a toll on someone who harmed my family. Methinks the person who first penned the phrase, "Revenge is sweet", should have added the extension, "but VERY short-lived . . ."
     
  12. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    Arrogance
    Love Story - from my first viewing until my last viewing (several months ago), I have ALWAYS hated Oliver for the manner in which he "discards" and then "reclaims" his wealth and stature, depending on the circumstances. It was not until the horrible sequel that we discover that Oliver finally understood his father and how loved he was by his employees, but even Jenny could not get the arrogance out of him before she died.
    Amoral
    Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal - Lecktor and then The Tooth Fairy. Of course, Lecktor needs no explanation. The "man" (if you can call him that), sees no right or wrong - he just "does". The Tooth Fairy, however, has always been another matter for me. I have wondered what was he thinking when he began to cry while lying in bed with the blind woman. Was he sorry for his crimes? Was he thinking about the void that was his soul? We are led to believe that if he had not "imagined" the blind woman kissing the co-worker, his blossoming relationship with her might have stopped him from killing - but would it? Could she have filled that void and given his life meaning? Perhaps The Red Dragon will lend some help in this area . . .
     
  13. Chris Moe

    Chris Moe Screenwriter

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    Sex and its consequences: Kids

    This movie should be required viewing for anyone 15-25.
     
  14. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Sam R. Aucoin wrote:
     
  15. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I know I will be chastized for this but after watching Hook which I enjoyed a lot, the theme relevant here was seize the day.
     
  16. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    I second Hook, not only its reminder to shed our jaded adult emotions to recapture the joys of childhood. But the mothers impassioned speech to RW's about the short fleeting time he has available to be part of his own children's lives.
    A worthy admonition to resist the modern American treadmill which removes us in spirit from our most precious possession.

    I liked the glimpse into a life altering experiences of the year aboard White Squall based on the actual sinking of the Albatross in the 60's. The reminder that society often resorts to a senseless process of doling out blame and punishment to attempt to salve or rectify what is simply and unavoidably a tragic set of occurrences.
    Can't remember the last line exactly, the voice-over, "the responsibility's of men, of fathers, of sea captains. That line affects my solar plexus every-time.
     

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