Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: Back to the Future

Movie Wednesday Back to the Future

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

Marty McFly is a normal ’80s teenager with normal boring parents and normal concerns like girls, school, and being in a rock band. Marty worries that, like his father, he won’t ever amount to anything because he’s afraid to be rejected. But one day Marty receives a call from his mentor, the eccentric Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, who claims to have unlocked the secret to time travel. Doc has transformed a car into a time machine! But Doc’s experiment goes awry with the arrival of some unexpected consequences and Marty is accidentally flung back in time to the 1950s where he encounters his own parents as teenagers. When Marty accidentally interferes with his parents’ past, his own future begins to disappear. He must team up with a younger Doc to fix time, make his parents fall in love, and get himself…back to the future!


[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!]


Back to the Future was released in 1985 and was an immediate box office hit. Produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Back to the Future launched a beloved franchise and is still considered a staple of science fiction today.

The sets for the film were built on a Universal back lot. The ’50s sets were built first so that the crew could then age them for the sequences in the ’80s. A lot of research was done for the ’50s pieces. At the time, not many films were being set in the ’50s because it was considered “too recent,” a sentiment which seems pretty hard to comprehend now in the 21st century. For modern context, if the film were remade now about a teenager living in 2018, the sequences set back in time would be set in 1988 (which is pretty close to when the film was actually made)!

The DeLorean that Doc converts into a time machine is perhaps one of the most iconic images from ’80s science fiction. The design team even used air plane parts for the unique interior. It’s hard to imagine the story without it, but at one point the time machine was going to be refrigerator!

Originally, a different actor was cast in the leading role of Marty McFly even though Michael J. Fox was the filmmakers’ first choice. When Fox eventually took on the role, he had to work a grueling schedule because he was also filming a television series during the same time that Back to the Future was in production. As a result he got very little sleep and had to film later in the day to accommodate his TV schedule, which you might never know to watch his high energy performance in the finished product.

A note to parents: Although Back to the Future is rated PG, it does contain more mature themes than you might find in a PG film today. We recommend looking up the film on websites such as Common Sense Media before deciding if it is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • “I was never like that when I was your age!” various adults around Marty, including his mom, exclaim. But when Marty goes back in time, he discovers that his own mother didn’t behave all that differently from the teenagers Marty knows. What might the film be trying to say about the way time changes people and their own recollections of themselves?
  • Great Scott, it’s a paradox! Back to the Future plays with several time travel paradoxes. One of them is the bootstrap paradox (example: you’re a time traveler and you decide to take a copy of your favorite work of classic literature back in time to have the author sign it. But when you get there, you discover that the author does not exist! There’s no one to write your favorite book! So, you copy out the book and publish it under the author’s name, so that it can still exist. But wait! Who originally wrote that book?). How many instances of this paradox can you find in the film?
  • How do you think you would react if you went back in time and met your parents when they were your age?
  • Some aspects of Back to the Future haven’t aged well, for instance some of the racial stereotypes and gender norms included in the film. Did you notice anything that you didn’t agree with? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

Make Your Own Flux Capacitor

Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Little Women

Movie Wednesday Little Women

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

The March household has fallen on rough times. Mr. March is away fighting in the war, and the March sisters–Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy–along with their mother must keep themselves afloat financially while the four girls face the growing pains of transitioning into young women. Jo, a tomboy and an aspiring writer, must learn to mitigate her fiery temper as she navigates changing relationships within her family, as well as her burgeoning friendships outside the home, while she struggles to find an identity and a place in society.


[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!]


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was originally published in the late 1860s in two volumes (Little Women and Good Wives), which are now sometimes sold as one book under the first title. The classic coming of age story depicting young American women was written at the behest of Alcott’s publisher who wanted her to write something for young girls. Since its publication, Little Women has enjoyed popularity among people of all ages and differing social spheres. Its themes of growing up and the struggle to find and maintain an individual identity amidst social pressures to conform struck a resonate chord with its readership which continues to echo into the present day.

The book has been adapted into many mediums, including stage and film. In 1994, it was yet again adapted to screen. Starring Winona Ryder as Jo March, it was filmed on location in Vancouver and directed by Gillian Armstrong. With beautiful cinematography and music, and special attention paid to the props and costume design to maintain the 1860s period feel, the film creates a gorgeous setting for the story of the March sisters.

Discussion Questions

  • Which of the March sisters do you identify with the most and why?
  • As with most film adaptations, the 1994 film takes some liberties with the source text. If you have read the book, how do you feel about the film as an adaptation?
  • One of Jo’s flaws that she struggles to overcome in the story is her temper. Do you think she is ever successful? Explain your answer.
  • In the book, Jo deliberately lets Amy go out on the thin ice, not really being sure if Amy heard Laurie’s warning or not, leading to her sister falling into the freezing water. This is not made nearly so plain in the film and the incident is framed as more of a true accident. How do you think this change alters Jo and the way the audience may feel about her behavior?

Additional Resources

Little Women infographic

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Little Women 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.

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.


[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 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.


[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!]


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

Movie Wednesday SPECIAL TELEVISION EDITION: Doctor Who

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