Characterization Comparison: Film vs. Real Life

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SWBAT analyze how complex individuals, portrayed in non-fiction and as film characters, interact with others and develop the theme of nostalgia through critical viewing and class discussion.

Big Idea

Comparing F. Scott Fitzgerald as portrayed in both "Midnight in Paris" and "A&E Biography", opens students eyes to look at reflections in real life, or just a fantasy.

Introduction & Welcome: It's "Draw a Picture of a Bird" Day

8 minutes

I welcome the students to "Draw a Picture of a Bird Day," and for today's Mindbender ask them to do just that; draw a picture of a bird. While not a critical thinking brain teaser, the assignment gives me a chance to see students' problem-solving skills, and provides the artistic students a chance to shine.

Daily Holidays and Monday Mindbenders encourage a sense of student ownership and community in the classroom, and the Mindbenders nurture a bit of healthy competition as well. Students do take pride in correct answers, and provide teachable moments when they have incorrect answers.  

"Midnight in Paris": Critical Viewing & Discussion

40 minutes

Students continue to view "Midnight in Paris" in order to continue our look at critical viewing for an entire film, providing the skills to think critically about visuals. Today also serves as a launching point for a look at literary texts, particularly Ernest Hemingway's "In Another Country," which we will read next.

We continue from Gil's (Owen Wilson) first meeting with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald through Zelda's "breakdown" and Gil's reveal to Adriana that he is engaged (approximately 19 minutes in to 54 minutes). Students are asked to particularly focus on the portrayal and development of the Fitzgeralds and their interaction with each other and Gil (RL.9-10.3). 

Students are also asked to continue noting Gil's development as a character, as he advances the struggles of feeling being displaced in time, literally when he travels to the 20s, and figuratively as he deals with his impending wedding and the world of the 2011 (RL.9-10.3).

In two scenes with Adriana (Marion Cotillard) and Gil, alone in Gertrude Stein's (Kathy Bates) salon and their meeting at the party, I ask students to note how the carousel and Adriana herself reflects and develops Gil's own obsession with nostalgia, particularly her desire to visit the "Belle Epoque," (RL.9-10.2, RL.9-10.3).  

We end today with a brief discussion on the portrayals of the Fitzgeralds. Students analyze their portrayal in history, fiction, and film, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (RL.9-10.7).

In order to fit this viewing in the time allotted, I fast-forward through parts, particularly the scene at Gertrude Stein (Kathy bates)'s up until meeting Adriana (Marion Cotillard), and again, much of Adriana and Gil's walk alone. This serves to move things along in class, as some scenes can feel like they drag, as well as skip by some of the more risque conversation, despite the films' PG-13 rating. It is always important to preview a film before showing it to a class, and gauge it against the class' maturity level. 

"Midnight in Paris." Dir. Woody Allen. Perf. Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston, Allison Pill, Corey Stoll. Sony Classics. 2011. DVD. 



Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders, Homework

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, students are assigned their homework, to read Ernest Hemingway's biography and the story "In Another Country" in their textbook ("In Another Country" was published in 1927, and as such is still under copyright). As they read, students are asked to complete the "In Another Country" Reading Guide. Hemingway's short story will contrast Fitzgerald's highly descriptive style, and provide students and opportunity to compare Corey Stoll's performance of the author in "Midnight in Paris" with his complex, real life and personality, and develops over the course of the film as he interacts with Gil and the Fitzgeralds (RL.9-10.3).