Social 20: Film Study 2016/17 Historical Fiction

This year’s film study theme in both Social 20 and Social 30 is Historical Fiction.

In attending to our skills outcomes on media analyses, both grades will complete a film study with all students–regardless of grade, program, or film chosen–writing a brief paper on the same topic:

How does your chosen film connect to the themes of this course? Go beyond basic connections (ie. Hitler) into discussions of the broad themes. What message is the filmmaker giving? What evidence do you have to support this? Do you agree with the filmmaker’s decisions and message? How does this movie affect people’s perception of nationalism/liberalism?

As well, each individual movie has its own separate mini assignment: This differentiation allows for creative takes on bringing about the course themes and depicting knowledge.


2016/17 Approved Films For Social 20:

Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise

Common Sense Media Critique: Parents need to know that this tense World War II thriller based on a true story includes plenty of unflinchingly realistic, bloody violence (both on and off the battlefield), as well as several on-screen executions. The film includes extensive discussion of — and assumes a certain familiarity with — the crimes and history of Nazi Germany and could lead to lots of discussion with teens about topics like ethics, following orders, and more. Expect some swearing, drinking, and smoking.

Unique Assignment: What if Hitler Won the War?

Valkyrie is about a plot to kill Hitler from his own German guard. This would’ve changed the course of the war. But what if Hitler won? Using a creative medium (ie. not essay, powerpoint) highlight your ideas on how the world would be different today had Hitler won.

Braveheart starring Mel Gibson

Common Sense Media Review: Parents need to know that Braveheart is a 1995 movie in which Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, a Scotsman who leads a revolt against the British during the 13th century. This movie has high levels of blood and gore (animal and human), vulgarity, and sexual elements. In battle, characters fight and die with swords, spears, spikes, swords, and molten lead. Rape is used as a method of oppression by the British. Sex scenes between Wallace and his doomed wife and with a consenting princess. There’s some nudity in the form of female breasts and male backsides. Expect torture, hackings, stabbings, throat-slitting, and arrows and spears dealing horrible death and injuries. William Wallace is brave and noble but vengeful and absolutely uncompromising. Occasional profanity, including “f–k.”  There are sexual innuendos concerning prowess and the size of genitalia.

Unique Assignment: The Scots Today

William Wallace helped truly form a Scottish identity that many–myself included–feel today. But the Scottish nation is not the nation it once was: A part of the United Kingdom, Scotland has tried to separate. With “Brexit” unfolding–and a majority of Scots wishing to remain in the EU–it is likely this saga isn’t yet over. Construct a vertical timeline of the developments of Scottish nationalism, annotating it appropriately to include relevant, albeit brief, information. Illustrations, clip-outs, or other graphics should support your timeline.

Cool Runnings starring Leon, with John Candy

Common Sense Media Review: Parents need to know that although this underdog sports movie is based on the Jamaican bobsled team’s appearance in the 1988 Olympic Games, the characters, most of the situations, and all of the conflict are heavily fictionalized. The resulting feel-good fairytale offers positive messages about sportsmanship, going after your dreams, and believing in yourself … as well as some cartoonish potrayals of both the Jamaican people and their culture and some of their bobsleddding rivals (particularly the East Germans). A number of bobsled accidents are depicted, and there’s one brief barroom brawl — but no injuries or blood. Expect occasional mild swearing and lots of visible products/logos.

Unique Assignment: Own The Podium

The Olympics are a great illustration of international involvement and cooperation. Canada, like many countries, has an “Own The Podium” committee with a goal of bringing home medals. But why do we care about medals? The answer starts with an “n”. Conduct research on similar programs–and our own–and construct a report card on Canada’s performance in this area.

Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst

Common Sense Media Review: Parents need to know that this is a punk-rock version of history. While teens may enjoy the music, the movie’s relatively slow pace might end up turning some of them off. For those of us who remember our history, she does indeed get beheaded, but it doesn’t take place during the movie. There are a few scenes in which Marie appears naked (shown from the back or with her arms over her chest), but not in a titillating way, and there’s some sexual allusion when a doctor asks Louis whether his body is “responsive.” A couple of sex scenes show brief skin, the king’s mistress is buxom and breathy, and there are a couple of birth scenes. This is French history, so naturally there’s champagne and wine. In one scene, drugs are snorted and — as is becoming all too usual in PG-13 movies — there’s smoking.

Unique Assignment: Fact or Fiction?

Uh oh. I said historical fiction right? This one is a case of that genre going off the rails.

In a creative way (ie. not a doc, powerpoint) present an analysis of this film based on its historical inaccuracies. There are many. As well, include how rumors–much like these inaccuracies– fueled the French Revolution.

Passchendaele starring Paul Gross

Common Sense Media Review: Unavailable because this is a very Canadian movie that nobody saw. There’s romance, there’s the usual bad stuff in period pieces (booze), and there’s some amazing but graphic battle scenes.

Unique Assignment: Stage A Battle

Stage a battle you’ve seen in the film–or one from WWI that you’d like to show off–that helped build Canadian nationalism. This should take the form of a diorama or other visual.


You can choose to do other films–or even comic book series, videogames, what have you–WITH MY APPROVAL. To do so, you must convince me of its merit AND come up with the unique assignment all your own (again, in need of my approval).

Some ideas for you include:

-The Patriot


-Schindler’s List

-Battlefield One


Mr. McIntosh

Teacher - Humanities

In a typical year I teach a range of courses from elementary to high school. I am our school's Social Studies specialist, teaching high school social, as well as a member of the PE team.

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