I initially thought I could not use this video in my 8th grade classroom but thought about it all night, and have decided I would be able to after all. This movie was beautifully done after the initial scenes, which I found to be sort of ridiculous. The movie is initially about a young man who has a love for movies and cinema, and spends all of his life earnings (not spent on food or rent) on movies. Then we find him rushing to a movie and comes upon a path clearly overflowing with bricks, and yet he crashes into the bricks and knocks down a brick wall. Then a girl randomly shows up and hits him in the head with a brick, knocks him out, and sends him to the hospital. The girl gets put away for a little while based on the assualt but requests the guy to feed her fish. Weird concept, and the weirdest is that he accepts the woman's request because she did assault him after all. But from this point on, the story unravels in a beautifully done story where he reads about her life, and connections are formed. Her story starts out with her saying she is going to write down her life story as if it were a movie (she also has a fascination of movies), but that nobody would want to read/watch it. The story is laid out in a flash back type way where we find out about the woman's life, how growing up in a military village affected her mom and herself, her relationship with a boy (spoiler, it is the man know reading the script) who was beat and shipped away, and her family problems. We leave off with her as a child that runs away after accidently killing her brother. Then suddenly, we are in the present day where she is locked up and the man finds her family & it ends happily ever after (we think). We don't really know though as it doesn't show an ending other than them watching a movie again together with her parents, just like they used to do before life got in the way.
I would use this film as a way to have students practice their inferring and connection skills as there are many that can be made. The entire film is based on small connections between characters, and their surroundings. I would be able to show probably the entire movie (not relying on any time constraints) as it is very appropriate, and not risque or violent. There are a lot of different ways I can have them discuss and use inferring skills at different parts in the movie:
- The daughter talks about her mother falling "dangerously in love as all young girls do" but never shows the face of the what becomes the biological father. They can discuss why the man's face is never shown, what does it mean to fall dangerously in love, and what they think the importance of the relationship is in the miliary town. Or even the importance of the music he hands her in a secret envelope that she plays with only him.
- In another scene, she goes to watch a new movie called "Victory Over Death", and this is when she goes into labor. Right after, they show a group of her women co-workers surrounding her and screaming at her to tell them who the father is, who did this to her, etc. The mother then wants to commit suicide as starts writing a note before someone interrupts her. She shows no compassion for her daughter. She decides to go watch "Victory Over Death" again as her final movie ever, but then a woman at the movie calls her a slut and a fight between them ensues. This is when the mother decides she wants to live and provide for her daughter. What is the significance of the movie? How does it suggest cinema's connection in her life already?
- Later we see this little boy show up to town (Mao) and he picks on her, but then she sees his father beat him and decides to bring him home with her. Mom takes in the boy and you see this brother-sister relationship form. She talks about it as being the happiest time in her life. What predictions and inferences can we make about her future? About his future?
- Uncle Pan is the father figure in her life, and she loves him. You can sort of see the mom look at him in loving ways, although at first there is no real connection to a relationship there. But then he randomly asks her "do you want me to be your dad" and she says she already has a dad because her mom told her that a movie star was her dad. What inferences can a student make about this question? Or her reaction to the question? Then we see later that her mom and Uncle Pan get married, which makes her very unhappy. Again, why is this her reaction? She loves him so what makes her sad about this? What about the statement the lady next to her makes about basically acknowledge him as your dad or he won't want you? What is the idea of new marriages and the unwanting of the "old" child? Especially if a new child is born? (and the connection to Mao's family situation)
- Before we know the man reading it is Mao, we see the story jump back to him and his face widen with surprise. What connection can be made here?
- Another connection is that at one point, the two kids are on the roof watching a movie, and Mao tells her that she needs to be careful not to fall. Years later, she takes her little brother (who loves and adores her) up there to watch a movie because he came back for her when her mom banned her from going, and he falls off and dies. There is a connection between the sibling relationships and the idea of protecting one another.
- At the end of the story/movie script, we see the girl running away from home on a train standing in a corner looking scared, and then we are in the present with Mao frantically trying to find her again. But we don't see what happens in her life from the moment on the train to the time she hits Mao with the brick. I think this would be a great time to have them recreate her life, her hardships, how she collected all of her movie memorability, etc. They could write their own movie script version as an assignment, draw out the movie on film strip like design as the film strip is a HUGE symbol in the movie.
- I could also have them discuss the concept of movies used in the movie, and the importance of him giving her back the film strip of her "dad" at the end. How movies may have saved her or how they connect her family? How they influence Mao?
There are SO many connections and infereces and critical thinking questions I could make, and have students make. I don't know why I thought I couldn't show this movie last night. The idea of committing suicide is something I would very briefly discuss with my grade, but is something I am sure older grades could go into more. I would also not get into the ideas of the mental abuse and physical abuse quite as much as I could if I taught an older grade, or had much more mature students. But overall, this movie was touching and brought tears to my eyes a few times, so I think it would be a good one to show kids as it is not overly emotional but also not all violent and action.
Again, definetly worth watching! Here's some more information on it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424273/
edited by kstiles on 7/31/2014
edited by kstiles on 7/31/2014