Beauty and Aesthetic : “What makes a movie beautiful?”

This is the second of a series of posts about French AP. Several colleagues told me it would be helpful if I shared my materials so here we go! Feel free to critique them, use them, share them, toss them, ask questions about them, whatever you like! I try to give credit where credit is deserved but if you find that I forgot to credit someone/an organization, please do let me know.

For my full AP curriculum, please click here.

Wow, it took me a while to clean-up and organize this first set of materials so that I could share them on my blog. But not only did I really enjoy the exercise, it also actually helped me improve and even find new resources. So it’s a win-win and I am excited to share them with everyone!

This first “Beauty and Aesthetic” sub-unit is entitled: “What makes a movie beautiful?”

Here is the folder and a summary of what students can do during this unit:

1. Read, analyze, and discuss a famous French fairy tale “la Belle et la Bête”

I love starting the year with reading “La Belle et la Bête” by Leprince Beaumont because it is a very well known fairy tale so students may rely on their background knowledge to comprehend the authentic text. Also, by allowing them to compare and contrast the original 18th century story with the popular Disney movie, students realize that the “Gaston” character does not exist in the original story. So where did Disney get this character from? Students will get an answer once they watch the 1946 film by Jean Cocteau. Lots of interpretive and interpersonal communication happen during this first part.

Please note, if you don’t want to buy the book, you can find an online version here.

2. Discuss the definition of a “beautiful movie” and what factors influence our perception of beauty

Students come up with a definition for what makes a beautiful movie, using measurable and specific criteria. This is mission impossible because beauty is such a subjective thing but it is fun and interesting, as we talk about what influence our perception of beauty, and we end-up voting on the best criteria and come up with a class definition. I love discussing their criteria with them and each year, we manage to come up with a pretty interesting (though always flawed of course) definition. Lots of interpersonal communication.

3.  Watch a 1946 version of “La Belle et la Bête” and debate whether it meets their definition of a « beautiful movie »

When I first inherited the study of the film “La Belle et la Bête” by Jean Cocteau from my predecessor, I was a little concerned that students would find it difficult to connect with. But I am now very happy with how I have integrated it within a “Beauty and Aesthetic” context. After viewing the movie and having great discussions about the major twist at the end of the movie and the “Avenant” character (So that’s where Gaston comes from!), students get to formally debate whether or not “La Belle et la Bête” is a beautiful movie, using the criteria they came up with in class. Interpretive communication, formal and informal interpersonal communication, and presentational writing communication abound!

I hope you will enjoy perusing these resources. As usual, please feel free to critique and modify as you see fit.

(featured image credit: film poster found on Wikipedia)

8 comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing! And if you have a chance this summer, check out the 2014 La Belle et la bête on youtube! No subtitles, so it might work better second semester, but my kids loved it and it’s gorgeous!

  2. Thank you Cecile for your generosity and sharing all of these materials that you worked so hard to put together and organize.
    I am an emerging CI teacher and I’m just now feeling confident and I can see the progress I have made with Story Listening, CI, FVR/SSR etc. I am teaching AP French for the first time and will not have an AP teacher training workshop until the end of January. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around AP requirements and keeping true to the spirit of CI/SL etc. Was this a challenge for you or did you feel that you were able to stay true to a CI approach and meet the needs of your AP students? Would you approach the AP curriculum today in the same way you did in 2015-16 when you created these materials?

    • That is such a thoughtful question, Karen! I think we should connect to talk about this as I feel a comment would not do it justice, would you please write to me at cecileflaine at gmail?

      In a nutshell, yes I would approach my curriculum the same way by providing interesting themes and tasks to my students, but I would now include more free choice in reading. I have a lot of teacher-selected texts in my 2015/16 curriculum and if I teach AP again, I would love to provide students with more options to read about different topics.

      As of level 3, I start transitioning from a comprehension-based classroom to amore task-based classroom using cultural questions to guide us. I believe Dr. Krashen calls this “Sheltered instruction” and I think it fits the AP exam well. however, you cannot accomplish that if you have not laid down a strong language foundation using lots and lots of comprehensible input.

      I hope this makes sense, let’s talk more via email!

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