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Friday, January 6, 2012

Z-Guide to the Movies

I can't help but say that in a French accent.  Like this..."Zee guide to zee movies."  See?


This is a review and it has nothing to do with French or even bad accents.

It is for a product from Zeezok Publishing

called Z-Guides to the Movies (no French accent this time).

Okay, I lied....everytime I say that in my head...I say it with a French accent.  Just ignore me.

Let me tell you what this actually is.

This company has guides to use when you are watching movies.  You can use them in conjunction with your history help you learn more about different periods of history. 

Got it?

No?  They offer little unit studies based on movies.

So, for instance, they have guides available from Ancient Civilizations (One Night With The King) to Ancient Rome (Ben Hur) to The Great Depression (Kit Kittredge) all the way to Post World War II (movies like:  Driving Miss Daisy, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, Twelve Angry Men, and My Side of the Mountain) just name a few.

When we first got the chance at this review, they let us choose from their whole list of movies.  I got overwhelmed, so I asked Rainman to give me some ideas.  He said he had always wanted to see the movie A Man For All Seasons....which I had never heard of.

But, I picked it anyway.  This movie, made in 1966, falls under the 16th Century Europe category.

This movie is about Sir Thomas More, who was Chancellor of England, and his stance/opinion regarding Henry VIII wanting to divorce his current wife (who was unable to give him boy babies), in order to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn (who presumably assured him that she could give him boy babies). 

If a movie can be both interesting and boring at the same time....this movie fit the bill.  Last time I let Rainman pick our movie!

That being said, we did learn some stuff....which was really the whole point.

The guide has a topic overview, 10 activities, family discussion questions and a list of other resources, if you want to learn more about the topic.

Before you even watch the movie, you read through the topic overview section, the movie synopsis, and the first set of questions.  Then, as you watch the movie, you answer the first set of questions.  (That keeps bored students and teachers on their toes, you know!)

They recommend that the student complete two activities everyday, so, by the end of the week you will have completed the whole guide.

Our movie guide has sections on Henry VIII, Thomas More, the Tower of London, and even the Art of Filmmaking.  The Art of Filmmaking section talks about themes, foreshadowing and stage plays versus movies, how the director gave glimpses in Henry VII's character (even though he was hardly in the movie), and even has you examine whether there was any significance to using gargoyles in the opening scenes of the movie.

See?  Interesting and boring at the same time.

Sir Thomas More was quite a who is probably far braver than I would have been in his situation.  He stood firmly for what he felt was right....regardless of the consequences.  I cried during the scene where he knows he is saying goodbye to his wife and daughter.....but still won't take the oath that the king wants him to. 

I love the idea of these guides and just wish I would have picked a more entertaining movie for us to start with and worked up to the deep thinking ones that would make me cry.

Something like Kit Kittredge or Father Goose.

I like that these guides have you answer questions that can't be answered just from watching the movie you have to do research....which will bring to light that sometimes things in the movies aren't 100% accurate.  Shocking, I know!  ;)

You can kind of go as deep or shallow as you want with these guides.  If you do every activity, you will have a good understanding of the film (and some of the underlying messages that the movie may contain), a pretty good idea of this portion of history, from what clothes were worn to what people ate or modes of transportation (I was surprised at how much travel took place on the water in A Man For All Seasons), and, of course, a pretty good knowledge of the topic/subject (in our case, Sir Thomas More).

We do watch a lot of family movies together, so this is a way to enjoy that hobby and be able to use that as legitimate school time also. 

They have a lot of guides available and are planning to continue adding 1 or 2 new titles every month.  Go take a look at what they offer right now and see if any interest you.  Each guide costs $12.99

All the movies are either available to purchase on their website or you can get them from Netflix.  We just got ours from Netflix, and surprisingly, there wasn't a long wait for that particular title.  :) 

Zeezok also has books available to help supplement your current curriculum.  They have Government/History, Presidential Penmanship (this uses famous Presidential quotes and speeches to help you practice your penmanship), Great Musicians, Reading/Literature, as well as various ebooks and audiobooks

The other TOS crew reviewers picked different movies than Rainman did (lucky them) go take a look and see what they thought of their Z-Guide to the Movies.

Overall, I would really recommend Z-Guide to the Movies and would definitely use them again to fill in gaps...or even to make certain topics a bit more entertaining to the kids.

I received a copy of Z-Guides to the Movies, A Man For All Seasons, for free in exchange for an honest review