Good Books Made into Good Movies for the Classroom

In honor of the awesomeness that is Catching Fire, I bring you this list of literary works turned movies suitable for the classroom.

The complete “Harrison Bergeron” Unit Plan is so good that Diana Moon Glampers tried to break into the file and intentionally misspell every other word.

It is a difficult thing to turn a great book into a great movie. It is even more difficult to turn a great book into a great movie that’s appropriate for the classroom. Here are some movies you may want to put in your class library.

. This is a short movie based on the story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. It is the rare movie that should be shown in its entirety. It’s only about 25 minutes and captures the theme of Vonnegut’s short story brilliantly. You can get a digital download from Amazon. By the way, don’t confuse this great short film with the awful movie, entitled Harrison Bergeron.

The Odyssey
. This one came out on TV a few years back. It’s the version starring Armando Assante as Odysseus and Vanessa Williams as Calypso. Don’t show the whole thing. The movie has some inconsistencies along with a few racy scenes on both Circe’s and Calypso’s Island. Key scenes to use for classroom instruction for The Odyssey include:

  1. The Trojan War Battle at the beginning, especially the part where Achilles (played by Favio) sticks Hector in the throat with a spear.
  2. The Trojan Horse scene where the Greek army comes out and does some serious pillaging.
  3. The Cyclops’ Cave. It’s kind of gross. Polyphemus’ feast includes some graphicness and a good bit of unintentional comedy.
  4. Island of Aeolus. This is enough to make your class hate the entire crew
  5. Scylla and Charibdis. This scene does a good job of visualizing these terrifying monsters.
  6. The Slaughter of the Suitors. A little heavy on the violence. Not sure if that’s good or bad.

Great Expectations
. This may come as a shock, but high school students sometimes have difficulty understanding Charles Dickens. There are many adaptations. I recommend the Masterpiece Theatre 3-part series available from Amazon Digital Download. Although the plot strays far from the book, the novel’s themes are well represented. In other words, just watching the movie won’t help them pass the test but will help them understand the novel’s major themes.

To Kill a Mockingbird. The movie is surprisingly good. I highly recommend it.

“The Tell-tale Heart.” The creepiness of this black and white classic, starring Vincent Price as the narrator, is a great companion to the short story.

The Fellowship of the Rings. Let’s drop the facade. You just read the book and you’re tired and want a free day. Just put on the movie.

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