vs Reel (Hollywood) Class Report



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U.S. History (Wetmore) Real (History)vs Reel (Hollywood) Class Report

1st Semester ’13 “Take Home” Final Exam Activity 100 points

Due by the day of your final (Dec. 17, 18 or 19, 2013)

Select movie/Step 1 due Tues.,11/19;

With Class Report/Step 2 (30 pts) due in class Nov. 25-Dec. 13, 2013
Rationale: (In depth study of a US History event(s) up to 1930) For many students, films provide a chief source of entertainment and, in many cases, students totally accept what they see on the screen as absolute fact. Apply and add to your knowledge of the history in the movie. In print and in film, there is no such thing as a completely historical document. Films should be enjoyed but a bit of caution must be employed in the process. Consider this assignment a lesson in critical analysis and historical interpretation just as you have analyzed historical documents in the classroom.
1. This activity has a point value of 100 points and will count as one-half of your final exam score. It will be combined with a 100 point objective test to make the total final score of 200 points. Reviews are due on or before final exam day.

  1. Students will view a movie from the suggested list (no shared movies), which covers any topic/ event of U.S. History up to 1930. Other titles may be substituted with the approval of the instructor. Do not substitute a movie without consulting the instructor. It is expected films selected meet the guidelines set by parents for home viewing. Additional points may be awarded for very challenging selections. A variety of films, including cinema classics are included. Don’t shy away from a black and white classic. It is expected the student will choose a film not yet viewed.

  2. Students will write a movie review using the guidelines given. The reviews will be typed or legibly hand-written and approximately 1½ - 2 pages in length. Consult the grading rubric as well as the review outline/guidelines to guide your writing. Model movie reviews will be shared in class as well.

  3. Every student will give a class presentation of 3-5 minutes. Focus on the “heart” (Outline III #6) of the historical accuracy (15 of 30 pts). How does the “real”(History) compare/ contrast with the “reel” (Hollywood)? Use movie clips within the time frame. Use of power point/ software is suggested.

Movie Suggestions (see teacher if your choice is not on this list)

Remember that NO TWO students in the same Block Class may do the same movie!

The Colonial Experience Amistad & any of Roots Vol. 1-6


1492: Conquest of Paradise The Civil War

Christopher Columbus: The Discovery Gods and Generals

Black Robe Andersonville

Roanoke Gettysburg

Three Sovereigns for Sarah Gone With the Wind

North and South

The Last of the Mohicans The Horse Soldiers

The American Revolution Journey to Shiloh


Drums Along the Mohawk No Drums, No Bugles

The Howards of Virginia Red Badge of Courage

Johnny Tremain Ride with the Devil

Revolution Shenandoah

1776 The West/ Post Civil War

The Madness of King George Dances with Wolves

The Patriot Little Big Man

The Expansion of the New Nation Jeremiah Johnson


The Alamo (2004, 1960 & 1937) Buffalo Soldiers

The Buccaneer Far and Away

Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier The Molly Maguires

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) Dr. Zhivago (1965)

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 and 1979) Titanic (1953 and 1997)

Son of the Morningstar (1991) Ride with the Devil (1999)

Gangs of New York (2002) Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976)

Lost Battalion (WWI 2001)Eight Men Out (1999) Fly Boys





How to Write A Movie Review for U.S. History

What is written without effort is read without pleasure

A movie review is a personal recommendation of a movie. It is more than a report or a simple detail by detail account of the events in the movie. Use this guide whenever you write a movie review.


Checklist for a well-written movie review:


  1. ALWAYS watch the entire movie BEFORE you begin your review.

  2. ALWAYS assume the reader of your review has never seen the movie you are reviewing.

  3. ALWAYS use complete sentences, well-organized paragraphs and proper punctuation.

  4. ALWAYS type your review in double-space.

  5. ALWAYS distinguish movie titles by underlining or typing in boldface.

  6. ALWAYS use a variety of adverbs and adjectives rather than wearing out a few. Try not to be over-enthusiastic and use exaggerated phrases such as “I couldn’t stop watching this movie!” or “It was the best movie I’ve ever seen!” etc.

  7. NEVER announce what you are going to do such as “Now I’m going to discuss…” or “I’m going to write a review on…” etc.

  8. ALWAYS label your paper clearly with name, date and block in the upper right hand corner of the first page.

  9. ALWAYS state the title, production company, date of release, director, color or black and white and length of film. Be sure to jot down this information before you return the movie. An example follows.

Gordon Wetmore

Dec. 18, 2013

Block One


Three Sovereigns for Sarah, Nightowl Production, 1986. Directed by Phillip Leacock, color, 172 minutes.


  1. ALWAYS write a brief outline to organize the review. The outline should include general background regarding the movie, a short summary of the movie, the viewer’s opinion and a short conclusion. Below is a brief outline with suggestions for each section. These are only suggestions. Be sure to add any information YOU think is important. NEVER use outline form for your final copy. The finished product will be in composition form. {Required for class presentation of 3-5 minutes beginning Nov. 25}


I. About the Film (25%)(1 – 2 paragraphs)

  1. Consult the library, the internet or other reference materials regarding background on this movie. Include a brief biography including credentials, other works for which the director is known. List the actresses in the film. Where appropriate, include credentials of persons playing leading parts.

  2. Don’t get bogged down in trivia. This component of the movie review should give some insight into the motivation of the director and/or producer to make the movie. If the movie is based on a book, mention this information.

  3. Avoid giving any opinion statement in this section. However, your intro might open with a “hook” giving a “tease” of your opinion yet to come. It is fine to inject your personality throughout the review.




  1. Short Summary of the Movie (25%) (1 – 2 paragraphs)

  1. Give a basic synopsis of the movie but do not give a scene by scene description of the events in the movie. Does the movie center on a theme? What does the director/screenplay emphasize? Is the movie strong on character? Plot? Conflict?

  2. Let the reader of the review know enough about the movie to be able to decide if the movie is of interest to them without giving away the entire story.

  3. What time period in United States history is the backdrop for this movie?


III. “Real vs Reel” Assessment (40%)(2 – 3 paragraphs)Guidelines of #1-8

A. The critique is the most important part of the movie review.



  1. If you like or don’t it, say why. Support your opinion.

  2. Was it a good movie of its type? Was it believable?

  3. Was there a particularly well done aspect of the movie? Photography, costumes, choice of actors, special effects, etc.

  4. Do you like the director’s style?

  5. **Make a judgment concerning the historical accuracy of the movie based on what you learn about this time period.**Heart of report** Choose your 2-3 favorite scenes for in depth research on accuracy!

  6. If the movie was based on a novel or non-fiction work that you have read, compare and contrast the two.

  7. Was there a scene (or scenes) that was especially riveting? Emotional? Traumatic? Inspiring?

  8. What did you gain or learn from viewing this movie?


IV. Short Conclusion (10%)(1 paragraph)


  1. Sum up your feelings on the movie; provide the reader of your review with a final thought regarding the movie.

  2. For whom was the movie made? Who is an appropriate audience for this movie? Would you recommend this to your classmates? For classroom use? Why? Do you agree with the rating given by the industry? Explain.

  3. Clearly state your endorsement or disappointment in the movie. Remember your reader is anxious to make a judgment about seeing the film based on your critique. Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Five stars? Save your money, etc.



Special thanks to Mrs. Maguire for permission to reproduce this assignment of her design.

Name __________________________________ Block ___ Date _____________________

US or World History (Wetmore) Due by 11/13-18 / 2013
Real to Reel History Movie Review Step 1 ___/ 10 points

Title, Brief Summary of Real History & How you will watch the Movie (online, NetFlix, etc)
Movie Title ___________________________________________________________________________
How will you watch the Movie? __________________________________________________________
Brief Summary of Real History in the Movie (Who, What, Where, When):

Step 2 30 Pt Format - Class Report (Nov.25–Dec. 13, 2013) – approx. 3-5 min.




Sharing information with class – low anxiety – may use a short (1-2 slides) power point or document through projector with a flash drive or send to teacher at gordonwetmore@smsd.org


I. About/ Purpose of the Film (6 points) 30 seconds

Don’t get bogged down in trivia. This component of the movie review should give some insight into the motivation of the director and/or producer to make the movie. If the movie is based on a book, mention this information. However, your intro might open with a “hook” giving a “tease” of your opinion yet to come. It is fine to inject your personality throughout the review.



Short Summary of the Movie (6 points) 1 minute {May use a short clip 2-3 minutes) of the movie}

  1. Give a basic synopsis of the movie but do not give a scene by scene description of the events in the movie. Let the reader of the review know enough about the movie to be able to decide if the movie is of interest to them without giving away the entire story. What time period in United States history is the backdrop for this movie?

III. The Viewer’s Opinion – REAL to REEL research (15 points) 3 Minutes

The critique is the most important part of the movie review. Consider these things but don’t limit yourself to only these aspects. DO NOT simply answer these questions! You may use a movie clip of no more than half the presentation - focus on 1-2 scenes.

  1. If you like it, say why.

  2. If you don’t like the movie say so. Support your opinion.

  3. Was it a good movie of its type? Was it believable?

  4. Was there a particularly well done aspect of the movie? Photography, costumes, choice of actors, special effects, etc.

  5. Do you like the director’s style?

  6. **Make a judgment concerning the historical accuracy of the movie based on what you learn about this time period.**Heart of report** Record the sources used.

  7. If the movie was based on a novel or non-fiction work that you have read, compare and contrast the two.

  8. Was there a scene that was especially riveting? Emotional? Traumatic? Inspiring?

  9. What did you gain or learn from viewing this movie?

  10. Did the director achieve his/ her purpose?

IV. Short Conclusion (3 points) 30 seconds - Sum up your feelings on the movie; provide the reader of your review with a final thought regarding the movie.


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