Watch IT/Write IT!

Public Domain Movies, A Developmental Educators’ Writing Tool


Movie script writers tell stories using audio and visual rhetoric, i.e., narratives and scenes. The synthesis of their effort becomes a cinematic work. The advent of Edison’s moving images followed by audio “talkies” led to modern movies. Movie-making depended on reading and writing, i.e., rhetoric. Why not employ the art in a reverse way: Watch the movie then write its script as a theme or short story?

Some benefits might include:
1) Enthusiasm for the movie leading to a like desire to convey its story-line
2) Note taking during the viewing making movie watching a richer experience
3) Coming to grips with one's limitations to express deep emotional feelings conveyed by a romance, war, adventure, or fantasy movie
4) Understanding the heroes of Hollywood depend, in part, on rhetoric for their stardom

The Process:

Below are links to a variety of entertaining movies collected from public domain sources. Have the class vote on which one to view as its Watch IT/Write IT project. Rather than showing the entire movie at once, select fifteen minute sub-views per class period. Have the students write a synopsis of each sub-view. At the conclusion of the final quarter hour showing, ask the students to combine the five to seven summaries into an overall script. Each summary should be titled by the student and edited into the final combined script. Because the movie is serialized, students will look forward to subsequent viewings.

Compare the Movie to the Book

Some of the movies have their originating source novel, book, or story resident on the DEH website and DVD. Have the students correlate movie scenes with the author's rhetoric by assigning theme exercises discussing the comparison for: 1. Fidelity to the original written content 2. What significant details were left out 3. The student's suggestions for improving the scene based on reading the original written content.

The .pdf versions of the respective texts are accessed by clicking on the word "book" in the movie descrition narratives below for those movies with a corresponding text in the DEH.

Click here for specific instructions on correlating the videos with their respective novels.

Technical Considerations:

The movies are formatted for mpeg4 players. This highly compressed algorithm limits screen resolution but increases the number of films on the Developmental Educators’ Handbook Movie DVD and website. The MP4 movie player (program) installation software resides on the DVD and website for installation on class and home computers.

Click here to install the "mp4" movie player. This link installs the popular public domain VLC movie player. However, often local networks will not permit installation of such software. If that is the case, click on the link below to the Apple Quicktime installation site. The Quicktime player will play the "mp4" video format. Unfortunately, the Microsoft Media Player will not. Most networks permit installation of Apple's Quicktime video player. Click here to go to the Apple Quicktime download/installation site.

Unfortunately, Internet Explorer, Firefox and the Chrome web browsers, play the .mp4 movie format within the browser's window. The size of the movie viewer is no more than a large postage stamp. In order to overcome this handicap, the movies can be played directly from the Developmental Educators' Handbook folder "Watch." Rather than starting the DEH via the "Start Developmental Educators' Handbook.htm" file, click on the folder "dfr_web_site" then click on its sub-folder "watch" to select the desired .mp4 movie among the various .jpg and .mp4 files. Clicking on the selected .mp4 movie will open the film in a large VLC, Media Player, Quicktime, or Real Player window depending on which player is the computer's selected default movie player.

Developmental Educators’ Cinema:

Please take your seat and select an entertaining Developmental Cinema Movie by clicking on any of the titles below.

1. Of Human Bondage : Based on the Book by author Somerset Maughm

2. A Study in Scarlet : Based on the Book by Sir Author Conan Doyle

3. All Quiet on the Western Front : Based on the Book by author

4. A Hoosier Schoolboy : Based on the Book by author Frances G. Eggleston

5. The Lost World : Based on the Book by author Sir Author Conan Doyle

6. King Solomon's Mines : Based on the .Book by author H. Rider Haggard

7. A Farewell to Arms : Based on the Book by author Ernest Hemingway

8 Rain : Based on the short story by Somerset Maugham

9. Oliver Twist : Based on the novel by Charles Dickens

10. The Jungle Book : Based on the short story by Rudyard Kipling

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