Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: The Phantom of the Opera

Movie Wednesday The Phantom of the Opera

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

Christine Daaé is an orphaned chorus girl living in the ballet dormitories of the Opera Populaire. After a mishap in rehearsal, the reigning prima donna storms out, declaring that she will not perform that night, and Christine is called upon to replace the temperamental diva amidst anxiety that the accident was the work of “the opera ghost.” The performance is an outstanding success for Christine, who has been taking voice lessons from a mysterious “Angel of Music.” Afterwards she is reunited with her childhood sweetheart and the new patron of the opera house, the handsome Raoul, but before Raoul can take Christine for a romantic outing, she is spirited away by the Angel of Music. Down beneath the opera house, Christine must confront the identity of the man behind her masked angel as she begins to suspect that the phantom haunting the Opera Populaire may not be so spectral after all.

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The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical based on the novel by Gaston Leroux (originally serialized from 1909 to 1910), opened on the West End in 1986. One of the most successful works of musical theatre to this day, and the longest running Broadway show, it was adapted into a film in 2004, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson as the ill-fated love triangle at the center of this extravagent Gothic Romance.

Famously, Lloyd Webber first entertained the idea of turning Leroux’s novel into a musical one afternoon when he happened to pick up the book at a shop to read. Although Lloyd Webber felt that the classic novel, which has inspired countless adaptations and derivative works, was a “confused” book, he also thought that it could be turned into a successful musical if the story were refocused into a high romance.

The stage musical opened to critical acclaim and became a phenomenon almost overnight. Talk of adapting the stage show to screen began in the late ’80s when the production went to Broadway, but did not come to fruition until the early ’00s.

With lavish sets and costumes meant to create a sense of “heightened reality,” with Lloyd Webber’s iconic score played on a 105 piece orchestra, the 2004 film is a feast for the senses. But at its core the story still remains one that asks the audience to ponder deep questions such as the line between intense love and obsession, as well as social prejudice against those who are different.

A note to parents: The Phantom of the Opera (2004) is rated PG-13. We recommend looking up the film on sites such as Kids in Mind before deciding if it is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think the Phantom loves Christine or is he simply unhealthily obsessed? Explain your answer.
  • At the end of the story, Christine returns the Phantom’s ring and departs with Raoul. Do you think Christine made the right choice? How would the story change if she made a different decision?
  • Christine is an orphan and feels the loss of her father strongly. Do you think her lack of parental figures makes her particularly vulnerable to the Phantom’s manipulations? Explain your answer
  • Due to his deformity, the Phantom has faced extreme social prejudice and abuse which has caused him to become violent. He blames his deformity for Christine being unable to love him, but Christine says that the “true distortion” is in his soul. What do you think the story may be trying to say about social stigmas and the impact they can have on a person?
  • What is your favorite song in the musical and why?

Additional Resources

25th Anniversary production of the stage musical starring Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, and Hadley Fraser.

Official Phantom of the Opera YouTube channel – Behind the scenes of the stage productions, trailers, and more

Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Frozen

Movie Wednesday Frozen

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

In the Kingdom of Arendelle, a coronation is being held. The Princess Elsa has come of age and is to be crowned queen, and the gates to the palace are to be opened for the first time in years. The two princesses, Elsa and Anna, have lived in isolation for years and no one knows why. Anna herself does not understand why her sister suddenly withdrew from her and shut herself away as a child. In her over-excitement for contact with the outside world, Anna almost literally runs into Prince Hans, a dashing young man who seems to have stepped out of her fantasies to sweep her off her feet.

After the coronation, when Anna asks Elsa to bless her sudden intention to marry Hans, an argument ensues between the sisters and the truth about Elsa is revealed. She has the power to make cold and ice and snow, but she lacks control over it and she accidentally lashes out. In reaction to the people’s shock and horror, Elsa flees and leaves Arendelle in a perpetual winter. It’s up to Anna, with the friends she meets along the way, to find her sister, repair the damage to their relationship, and bring summer back to the land.

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Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Disney’s Frozen is loosely inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Snow Queen. The idea of turning the Snow Queen into an animated picture had been around since the 1930s but kept getting scrapped for various reasons.

In 2013, Frozen was finally released and quickly caught on with young people, inspiring many kids to watch and rewatch the film over and over. The lead song, “Let It Go,” became a cultural phenomenon, spurring endless covers online. The film’s themes of the redemptive power of familial love and the importance of taking the time to form meaningful bonds with others, aided by catchy pop tunes and a strong visual aesthetic sense, clearly struck a strong chord in young audiences.

That strong aesthetic sense has roots in our real world. Nærøyfjord in Norway served as an inspiration for Arendelle, along with Scandinavian and Sámi culture, clothing, and architecture. As with most things that Disney films pull inspiration from, liberties are taken with these sources, which has drawn some controversy and much discussion on the internet.

Some viewers have drawn parallels between the character of Elsa and mental illness, pointing out that she demonstrates signs of anxiety and depression through her social isolation and struggle to control her powers. Frozen can represent an important opportunity to talk to kids to about mental health in an age appropriate context.

So, cuddle up under some thick blankets and travel to the frosty magical world of Frozen!

Discussion Questions

  • The central relationship in Frozen is between Elsa and her sister Anna. Despite the importance of this relationship, the sisters don’t actually spend much time on screen together. How do you think this impacts the story and the portrayal of their relationship?
  • Do you think Elsa’s parents reacted appropriately to her powers by isolating her or did this contribute to her inability to control her powers? Explain your answer.
  • Throughout the film, various characters show concern regarding Anna’s decision to marry someone she has only just met, pointing out that she doesn’t really know Hans. And indeed, Hans is eventually revealed to be a villainous character who is only out for his own personal gain, seeking to exploit the two sisters in order to seize power for himself. What might the film be trying to say about the “insta-love” tropes used so often in older Disney films?
  • If you could either have Olaf, the heat-loving snowman, or Sven, the carrot-addicted reindeer, as your companion, which would you choose and what would you do if you spent a day together?

Additional Resources

Let It Go – Behind the Mic Multi-Language Version (25 languages are featured in this video!)

Cover of Let It Go fused with Vivaldi’s Winter by the Piano Guys on YouTube

Movie Discussion Club


by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

Rose Tyler is a normal 19-year-old young woman, she works a normal job, and has a normal boyfriend and a normal mother. Until one night after her shift ends, Rose is attacked by plastic mannequins animated by a strange power. Rose is saved by the mysterious “Doctor” and her normal life suddenly turns upside down. The Doctor is over nine hundred years old, he’s the last of a species called Time Lords, he can regenerate when he dies, and he has a ship that can travel anywhere in time and space, is bigger on the inside, and looks like a police telephone box. The Doctor offers to take Rose with him on his travels and the two embark on an adventure through the stars filled with laughter, heartache, and more than a few monsters.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

The original Doctor Who series began airing on the BBC in 1963 and ran until 1989 when it was taken off air. A movie, a line of books, and audio dramas were produced in the interim, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the show returned to television. Rebooted by new headwriter Russell T. Davies and executive producer Julie Gardner, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion Rose, Doctor Who leaped into the 21st Century (and across the pond) with a bang and resumed its place as a television staple.

The show has since changed headwriters twice and five different actors have played the titular role of the Doctor since the reboot, with Jodie Whittaker as the latest regeneration of the iconic Time Lord and the first woman to ever take on the role. But it all began in 2005 with Eccleston and Piper…and some very ill-behaved plastic dummies.

To most American ears, Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor having a Northern accent might not register. But within Doctor Who it was quite a big deal for the Doctor to speak in anything other than Received Pronunciation. What is Received Pronunciation? You may have also heard it called “the Queen’s English” and it is considered to be the “standard form” of “educated” southern British English. Eccleston speaking in a Northern accent opened the door for contemporary Doctors to use different accents outside of “standard speech,” such as Peter Capaldi’s Scottish accent.

Discussion Questions

  • In the reboot, an effort was made to make the Doctor/Companion relationship on more equal footing, instead of the kinds of “paternal” relationships previously shown. Do you think they succeeded? Why or why not?
  • Rose Tyler decides to run off with the Doctor and travel with him through space and time. If the Doctor showed up and made you the same offer, would you accept? Explain your answer.
  • In the third episode, Rose and the Doctor meet Charles Dickens. If you could travel back in time, who would you want to meet and what would you do if you did?
  • If you have watched multiple seasons of Doctor Who, who is your favorite Doctor and why?

Additional Resources

An Adventure in Space and Time – A dramatized look at the creation of the original TV show

Official Doctor Who YouTube Channel [spoilers for recent seasons; make sure you’re caught up before exploring]

DIY miniature light up TARDIS

Movie Discussion Club

Blog Roundup Special Edition: Movies!

Brave Writer Lifestyle February Roundup

Welcome to the latest blog roundup! See how other homeschooling families practice the Brave Writer Lifestyle!

This roundup in particular is special because February is Movies and TV month here at Brave Writer.

The Brave Writer Lifestyle and Movies

Family Movie Night: Hidden Figures by Kara

36 of the Best Childrens + Young Adult Books Made into Movies by Alicia

25 Movies You Can Pair with Books by Erin

The Secret Garden Book Club and Movie Time by Dachelle

Our Brave Writer Lifestyle February: Books, Movies, and the 2018 Winter Games by Cait

We hope to share more roundups in the future! If you write about an aspect of the Brave Writer Lifestyle, let us know! Email your post’s url to


2018 Brave Writer Lifestyle

Brave Writer Lifestyle Monthly Tips and Resources

Receive Brave Writer Lifestyle tips in your inbox for each theme below
PLUS a free hand-lettered PDF download by Julie! 

Movie Wednesday: Anne of Green Gables

Movie Wednesday Anne of Green Gables

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

Anne Shirley, an imaginative and red-headed orphan, has spent her life living in orphanages and working in strangers’ homes. One day, she is sent to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, elderly siblings who live on their farm in Avonlea called Green Gables. There’s only one problem: the Cuthberts had wanted a boy. But Anne’s eccentric, dramatic, and vibrant free-spirit quickly wins the Cuthberts over.

Anne has many delightful misadventures as she tries to integrate socially into the community, experiencing friendship, heartache, joy, and loss as she attempts to find a sense of belonging and forge bonds with the people in her new life.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is the first novel in a series chronicling the life of its titular character. Published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables has gone on to be adapted to screen numerous times, including the 1985 television mini-series film starring Megan Follows as the vivacious Anne.

The film and its sequels follow Anne throughout her life, though the sequels particularly diverge noticeably from the source material. Nevertheless, this telling of Anne’s story has endured with the source’s readership for remaining faithful in tone, if not plot, with whimsical dialogue and warm, cozy cinematography.

More recently, Anne with an E onNetflix is a television series adaptation of Montgomery’s novel. It has a more somber and bleak tone, putting more emphasis on the themes of prejudice and bullying in an attempt to make the material more relevant to a modern audience.

A note to parents: Anne with an E contains more mature content than might be expected from an adaptation of the source material. We recommend looking up the series on sites such as Common Sense Media for detailed lists of content so that you can make an informed decision about whether it is right for your family.

Movie Night: Anne of Green GablesPrince Edward Island

Discussion Questions

  • Some members of the Avonlea community, most notably Mrs. Lynde, prejudge Anne for being an orphan. What do you think the story may be trying to say about prejudice?
  • Anne has a vivid imagination and often pretends she is someone else. Why do you think she feels the need to escape herself and her circumstances?
  • Anne is very fixated on her appearance, particularly her red hair, and she often flies into a rage when teased about it. Do you think Anne should have had to apologize to Mrs. Lynde for insulting her appearance? Explain why or why not.
  • Anne’s influence on the Cuthberts is obvious, but what do you think the Cuthberts influence on Anne might be?

Additional Resources

Anne of Green Gables is our Boomerang Book Club’s May 2018 selection (includes the language arts product below)!

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Anne of Green Gables Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.