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Do you think movies based on novels are helpful for students?Movies are an enjoyable...

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rinide | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM via web

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Do you think movies based on novels are helpful for students?

Movies are an enjoyable source of entertainment and knowledge acquistion. Thus many prefer to watch the movie adaptations of  famous and current novels even without reading the book at all. Reading the entire book can be tedious and boring while an audio visual experience can be more entertaining.

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dmcgillem | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted December 13, 2011 at 8:07 PM (Answer #2)

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My seventh-graders read A Christmas Carol each year before the end of the first semester, and with an average reading level (as indicated on STAR testing results from Reading Renaissance) of fourth-grade, it can be pretty challenging.  His novel includes very lengthy descriptions, numerous author intrusions, and references to more historically relevant ideas than I can possibly build the background knowledge for.  I find it helpful to show the movie stave-by-stave as we read.  They read Stave 1 and discuss it, then they watch the corresponding section of the movie.  This truly helps their understanding before moving on to the next stave.  I think if it is used as part of the discussion - how the movie differed from the expectations they had based on the reading, how the "movie in their mind" was the same - it can be an enriching experience.  Research has shown time and time again, though, that the best way to become a better reader is to read, so I would never feel comfortable substituting a movie for the book.  That being said, I wouldn't see a problem with showing a movie trailer to spark interest in a book.  I Am Number Four, The Hunger Games, both are new or soon-to-be released movies that are based on books, and I think viewing the trailer could definitely incite interest in students who might not otherwise have picked up those titles.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 13, 2011 at 11:11 PM (Answer #3)

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I think my best experience was showing The Kite Runner and having my students tell me the book was so much better!  As far as I am concerned, it is fine and even educational to show a movie of a novel we have already read. How is a story constructed in these two very different mediums?  What would the students leave in or take out in the movie? Who do they see playing the characters?  How would they show a character's interior life?  These are all questions that help the student engage with the book before seeing the movie. After seeing the movie, these can be revisited, along with many other good questions for discussion.

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 13, 2011 at 11:57 PM (Answer #4)

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I think that watching the movie is a good activity that can be used as an adjunct to reading the book, but should not be used to replace the reading. I like #3's thoughts regarding comparing the book and the movie; what a great way to get student to think critically about the work!

Keep in mind that movies are not always faithful to the book; in fact, some stray so far afield that the author might not recognize his own work! As an example, the majority of the James Bond movies used virtually nothing from the original works except for Bond's name and the title of the book. In other cases the movie has a different ending than the book; a case in point is Jurassic Park, where the screenwriters modified the ending to allow for a sequel.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 14, 2011 at 2:38 AM (Answer #5)

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I think good movie adaptations help bring the novel to life, but I always show the film to the class AFTER they have completed reading the novel. I have never read a classic novel that wasn't better than the film, and usually my students agree. As an earlier post mentioned, most movies are not completely faithful to the novel--primarily because of time constraints--so it is wise to let the students know that they can't rely on simply watching the film version and expect to absorb everything in the novel. I agree with the previous post that The Kite Runner novel was FAR superior to the movie, which left out many scenes and characters. Probably the most successful movie I have ever shown was The Outsiders back in the 1980s and 1990s. The Francis Ford Coppola film was faithful to the novel, and the cast of young up-and-coming superstars really caught the attention of the classes--and especially the girls (thanks to Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, etc.).

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 14, 2011 at 6:23 AM (Answer #6)

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Sometimes movie versions of novels help keep students interested in a novel that might otherwise be too easy to put aside. My case in point is The Scarlet Letter. I was teaching regular level juniors and more than half the class was reading right along and doing fine, but I had several students who were struggling with the demanding language and style. To help the lower ability students at least keep up with the essentials of the plot I would show a portion of the movie once a week. It was a nice reinforcement and creative medium for the better students, and a life-raft for the weaker students. It gave them a chance to at least finish the story.

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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM (Answer #7)

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That depends on how closely the movie follows the novel.  Sometimes the movie version is more confusing than helpful when the moviemaker takes great liberties with the original script.

However, for my struggling readers, I often play a movie a bit at a time AFTER they have read the assigned chapters.  That way, between reading, discussion, projects, and following the plot chapter by chapter in the movie, the point usually comes through to most of the students.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM (Answer #8)

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As others have indicated,I too use the movie after the text, sometimes in stages (Holes, The Outsiders) sometimes at the end of a reading (Of Mice and Men, The Color Purple). I found the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo and Juliet really motivation for my junior students.

I also use an excellent tip I was told a few years ago, which is to have the subtitles on, particularly for less able readers. Students spelling of characters names and key terms in the text is reinforced when they see them on the screen.

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rinide | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM (Answer #9)

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Thank you all for participating in this discussion and contributing your rich knowledge and experience regarding the topic. It was great reading all.

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closemyeyes | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 21, 2011 at 8:07 PM (Answer #10)

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One can forget the story easily after reading but when you watch movies how many of you forget the stories of the movies soon. I guess no one.

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drahmad1989 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:38 PM (Answer #11)

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of course ,movies are helpful . but they may leave some important features of the novel or writings such as Hardy write a detailed chapeter at oven of fire , how a director can explain his idea through a single scene of this oven? in this way we miss some points of novel.

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