Back Then vs. Here & Now: Evaluating The Theme of Nostalgia

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SWBAT analyze and judge the theme of nostalgia as it develops over the film of "Midnight in Paris" through critical viewing and class discussion.

Big Idea

What is your Golden Age? If you could travel back to any period in time--via Peugeot, Horse-Drawn Cab, DeLorean, Police Call Box, or whatnot--when would you go?

Introduction & Welcome: It's National Name Yourself Day!

3 minutes

I welcome students to National Name Yourself Day, and ask, "If you could, what would you name yourself?" Closely related to Name Pride Week, this discussion connects to the overall theme of identity we address in context of American literature. 

As with all Daily Holidays, my objective is to build a sense of community and trust in the classroom as they students share their ideas and react to each other. Giving students an opportunity to speak in class provides them the opportunity to qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections (SL.9-10.1d).

Looking Back: "Midnight in Paris" Wrap-Up

45 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 poetry: Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory" and "Miniver Cheevy" for homework this evening. 

Before beginning "Midnight in Paris" today, I ask students to define "Golden Age"; I am looking for the concepts of "an idealized time, when everything seemed perfect" and "a time when the popular attitudes (or at least, in retrospect) match your own."

I identify Gil's "Golden Age," the 1920s, but the idea of a "Golden Age" will emerge and be shaped by what we watch today: Adriana and the "Belle Epoque"; Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, and Degas and the Renaissance; and Gil's realization that for the artists of the Renaissance, Kublai Khan's "stately pleasure dome" would be a Golden Age (RL.9-10.2). When we get to the scene at the Moulin Rouge, I stop the video and we summarize discuss how the idea of a "Golden Age" is both desirable and a fallacy, as Gil realizes. 

For viewing the film today, we begin at the point Gil meets Salvador Dali (Adrian Brody) and continue through the end of the film. As previously, for some scenes, particularly those that may be deemed more "risque" or slow, I will fast forward so we complete the video in time. As students watch the film, I ask them to continue reflecting on the "Midnight in Paris" Viewing Guide in order to provide them with focus. We will discuss this viewing guide in depth tomorrow. 

In order to increase the students' cultural literacy, with both the interactions with Dali and Co. and Toulouse-Lautrec and Co., I stop to provide students with additional (to what was read in the article "Hemingway Said What? A Cultural Cheat Sheet for 'Midnight in Paris'") background on Surrealism and Post-Impressionism, sharing highlights from these linked articles and examples of the work shown (with my thanks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Once we have completed the film, I ask students when their "Golden Age"--if they could travel back in time via Peugeot, Horse-Drawn Cab, Delorian, Police Call Box, Etc.--would be, and why? Students are given a shorter time--three to five minutes--to respond to this journal question in writing (W.9-10.10) before students present their thoughts in discussion (SL.9-10.4). Students share what their Golden Ages are.

Now that students have established what a Golden Age is and what their Golden Age might be, we will end our discussion building a summary of the lesson Gil learns about "Golden Ages" (basically, a nice place to visit, but wouldn't want to live there), drawing primarily from his comment to Adriana, "if you stay here though, and this becomes your present then pretty soon you'll start imagining another time was really your... You know, was really the golden time. Yeah, that's what the present is. It's a little unsatisfying because life's a little unsatisfying" (RL.9-10.2).   

"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

2 minutes

For homework this evening, students are asked to read a biography Edwin Arlington Robinson's biography in their textbooks and the poems "Miniver Cheevy" and "Richard Cory", as well as to complete a Reaction Guide for these poems. Miniver Cheevy is name-dropped early in the film in connection to Gil, and students will demonstrate their ability to draw connections on this assignment, particularly how the subject of being lost in the past is treated in the film and poem (RL.9-10.7).