Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Brave Writer Movie Wednesday The Scarlet Pimpernel

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

In Revolutionary France during the Terror, Percy Blakeney leads a double life. In one life he is the stylish fop, Sir Blakeney, who cares mostly for fashion and appearance. But in the other life, he is the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues aristocrats and their families who have been condemned to death by the guillotine. No one suspects that the silly Sir Blakeney and the heroic Scarlet Pimpernel could possibly be one and the same. But when Percy’s wife, Marguerite, is blackmailed into investigating the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, the secrecy of his double life is imperiled.

[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 1982 Emmy Award-winning film, The Scarlet Pimpernel, is based on both The Scarlet Pimpernel and Eldorado by Baroness Orczy.

The Baroness Orczy with her creation of The Scarlet Pimpernel and its titular character originated the “hero with a secret identity” trope, the prevalence and influence of which can still be felt today in such pop cultural icons as Batman and Superman. In this way, the Scarlet Pimpernel can be considered a proto-superhero. In a time when cinemas are saturated with superhero films, it can be valuable to revisit the origins of some of these now common and popular tropes.

In storytelling, a trope is an identifiable and recurring pattern in the way characters and plots are constructed. In this case, the trope is the hero with a secret identity. This trope would lead to the masked vigilante trope, which in turn gave rise to the modern superhero.

Discussion Questions

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel is a man of many disguises. Do you have a favorite disguise that he wears in the film?
  • The film is very critical of the Terror, but it mostly glosses over the sociopolitical conditions that lead to the Revolution. Do you think this causes the narrative to be unbalanced and simplistic, especially considering it is loosely historical fiction? Explain why or why not.
  • If you have a favorite masked superhero, were you able to find similarities between that character and the Scarlet Pimpernel? If so, list those similarities.
  • Every good hero needs a “good” villain. Do you think Percy and Chauvelin are well-matched enemies? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

Register for our Boomerang Book Club class where we will be discussing The Scarlet Pimpernel novel in November, which is also the Boomerang for that month (Boomerang guide is included in the Book Club).

Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she spends much time reading historical biographies and Batman comics.

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Scarlet Pimpernel 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: Fullmetal Alchemist

Movie Wednesday Fullmetal Alchemist

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

After the sudden death of their mother, brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt to use alchemy to bring her back to life. But when it goes horribly wrong, the young boys are left with dire consequences. Edward loses an arm and a leg in the attempt and must bind his little brother’s soul to a suit of armor to keep Alphonse alive.

Years later, Edward has become a renowned State Alchemist, known as the Fullmetal Alchemist because of his metal prosthetic limbs. Now bent on returning Alphonse to his proper body, Edward will stop at nothing to find the Philosopher’s Stone, which he believes will grant him the power to set things right. But strong forces outside the two brothers conspire to keep them from their goal.

[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!]

Fullmetal Alchemist is a Netflix original film and a fantasy science fiction movie released in 2017. Directed by Fumihiko Sori, it is a live action adaptation of the award-winning and worldwide best-selling manga (Japanese comic) series of the same name by Hiromu Arakawa.

In recent years, there has been a string of live action adaptations of Japanese manga, many of which have received heavy criticism for whitewashing. Fullmetal Alchemist is a notable exception to this trend. Although set in a fantastical, fictionalized Europe, the movie’s characters are all played by Japanese actors. A common argument against including representation in genre films has been that its presence would somehow need an explanation from the narrative. Fullmetal Alchemist never does this and simply centers Japanese actors without making it a narrative point.

Among the film’s central themes are familial love, trust and loyalty, perseverance, learning from mistakes, and that all actions have consequences that cannot be cheated.

A note to parents: Fullmetal Alchemist is rated TV-14 (roughly the equivalent of PG-13) and is intended for older teen audiences. Parents should be aware that it contains dark themes and intense fantasy violence (particularly in its last third). We recommend looking up the film on sites like Common Sense Media before deciding if it is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • A major theme of Fullmetal Alchemist is the principle of equivalent exchange; that in order to create something new, something old must be destroyed/given up. In what ways does the film illustrate this theme outside of the obvious alchemy?
  • Condensing and omission are necessities of the adaptation process, especially when trying to adapt a long-running comic series into a two hour film. Were there ever any moments in the film where you felt something wasn’t well explained or that something was missing, or did you feel the film’s narrative held together on its own? Explain your answer.
  • Towards the end of the film, one of the Homunculi observes that because she can die then she is human. What do you think this definition of humanity implies about her character?
  • At the end of the film, Ed decides not to use the Philosopher’s Stone to bring Al’s body back. Do you agree with his decision? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Fullmetal Alchemist is streaming on Netflix.

Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she spent much of her teens building a rather large manga collection.

Movie Discussion Club

Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

From September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States.

“Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.” –From the Hispanic Heritage Month about page

Here at Brave Writer we would like to direct you to some products and resources for Hispanic Heritage Month.

[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!]

Esperanza Rising Arrow

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.—Amazon (purchase the book here)

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Night Suggestion: Coco

Miguel comes from a family of shoemakers and in the Rivera household there is absolutely no music allowed. Miguel’s great-great-grandmother’s husband abandoned the family many years before to pursue music and ever since then the family has forbade music on principle. But Miguel dreams of one day becoming a renowned musician. His idol is the famous Ernesto de la Cruz, who was a popular singer before his untimely death. And now it seems like it’s Miguel’s lucky break. During the Day of the Dead holiday there will be a music contest and Miguel hopes to enter. But magic is in the air, and when Miguel’s plan goes wrong, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead! Now Miguel must find his musician great-great-grandfather to receive his blessing and transport Miguel back to the living before sunrise or he will remain among his deceased ancestors forever!

Learn more about the film (includes discussion questions) here.

Poetry Teatime!

Here is a list of bilingual English-Spanish poetry books perfect for Poetry Teatime!

For more Poetry Teatime ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month, check out our post on the official Poetry Teatime website.

Banner header Arrow Boomerang

Movie Wednesday: Lagaan

Movie Wednesday Lagaan

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

Once upon a time in India, in the village of Champaner, there is a drought making it impossible for the villagers to pay the British taxes that have been put on them. When the corrupt Captain Russell raises the taxes even further, Bhuvan, an inhabitant of Champaner, accepts the crooked captain’s challenge to a game of cricket. If the captain wins, the villagers must pay triple the regular taxes. But if Bhuvan and the village win, they will be exempt from taxes for the next three years. Bhuvan must unite his village if they will have any hope of learning the game and lifting the unfair tax.

[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!]

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India is a 2001 Academy Award nominated Bollywood musical sports-drama film set in colonial India during the Victorian period. The film stars Aamir Khan, who also produced the film, alongside Gracy Singh and Rachelle Shelley.

The title, Lagaan, translates to “taxation,” and among the film’s many themes, including the importance of communal unity and support, Lagaan explores some of the injustices brought about by colonial oppression. Specifically, unfair taxation by the occupying forces.

Colonialism is a policy where a country is occupied, politically taken over by another country, and exploited often for its natural resources and labor. We see this in the film as Captain Russell attempts to exploit the labor of the Champaner villagers, necessitating Bhuvan to make a stand against him.

Lagaan was filmed on location near Bhuj. It was difficult for the film crew to find a location to shoot because they needed a place where it had not rained in some time. The film features beautiful costumes, sweeping music, a lavish film style, and uplifting messages about teamwork, love, and overcoming obstacles.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you have a favorite musical number from the film? Which one and why?
  • Many blockbusters of western cinema clock in around two or two and a half hours. Lagaan is nearly four hours long. Did you find that the length allowed the film to explore its themes more deeply or did you find the pacing slow?
  • A love triangle in stories is when three people have romantic feelings for each other. Lagaan includes a love triangle between Bhuvan, Gauri, and Elizabeth. Were you rooting for one of the girls to prevail in her affections? Were you happy with how the triangle resolved? Explain your answers.
  • In the film, the character of Lakha spies on Bhuvan for Captain Russell. When the villagers discover his betrayal, they want retribution but Bhuvan decides to give Lakha another chance after Lakha sincerely apologizes. Would you have made the same choice as Bhuvan? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Lagaan is streaming on Netflix

Lagaan soundtrack

Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, in her spare time you will find her belting musical numbers.

Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Ice Girls

Movie Wednesday Ice Girls

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

After sustaining a serious knee injury during a figure skating competition, fifteen-year-old Mattie Dane isn’t sure she can continue skating, especially after her mother loses her job and the family has to relocate away from Mattie’s training rink. In her new town, Mattie finds a new friend, another figure skater named Heather, as well as a new rink and a new coach who helps her to regain her confidence. But when Mattie decides to skate again, it drives a wedge between her and Heather, and their friendship turns to on ice rivalry. With sectionals looming, Mattie must learn to persevere as a competitor and repair her friendship with Heather as the two prepare to skate against each other.

[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!]

Ice Girls is a 2016 sports movie and a heartwarming family film. Its themes include learning the value of perseverance, family bonds, and the importance of friendship.

Not everything has to be high tragedy and drama or an adaptation of classic literature in order to have value. “Feel good” movies are also an important part of building family culture and a language rich environment. It’s alright to snuggle up with some popcorn and brownies and just watch a fun, uplifting film simply ’cause it feels nice. And often times, profound and moving themes can be found in movies thought to be “light” entertainment, and Ice Girls is just such a one.

So, maybe it’s time to snuggle up on the comfy couch with some snacks and watch some figure skating with Ice Girls! It’s also timely since the Grand Prix Series, a key part of the figure skating season, is getting ready to start.

Discussion Questions

  • Sportsmanship is the practice of being fair and kind towards one’s competitors in a sport. At which points in the film do you think Mattie and Heather demonstrate good sportsmanship and at which points do they show poor sportsmanship? Explain your answers.
  • Heather’s mother is shown throughout the film to be controlling, domineering, and belittling towards her daughter. Do you think this is the cause of some of Heather’s bad behavior in the film? Explain why or not.
  • Well-written characters have flaws and demonstrate growth over the course of a story. For example, Mattie is shown sometimes giving up too soon and turning that into bitterness. She shows growth by learning to overcome those flaws with perseverance and kindness. Which other characters have flaws and show growth in the story? Explain your answer.
  • The film ends with Mattie winning sectionals so that she can go on to nationals, but the film doesn’t cover whether or not Mattie actually succeeds at becoming a champion. So, what do you think happens after the credits?

Additional Resources

Olympian Jason Brown Breaks Down Figure Skating’s Six Jumps – Wall Street Journal YouTube video

International Skating Union – The first 100 years – Part 1/3 – ISU Archives – Skating ISU YouTube video

Regular People Try Olympic Figure Skating (With Kristi Yamaguchi) – BuzzFeedBlue YouTube video

Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, in her spare time you will find her yelling about figure skating.

Movie Discussion Club