Re: When Can Our Children See LOTM?

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Posted by Gayle on February 10, 2000 at 21:24:47:

In Reply to: Re: When Can Our Children See LOTM? posted by Brent on February 10, 2000 at 13:44:31:

: : I am a public school teacher in the Mohawk Valley and am showing LOTM for my US History students. It fits in so well with what they've learned already and the locale is identical to ours in so many ways. The history of this area comes alive and the students love it!
: : Now, however, I'm being warned by colleagues that the film is "inappropriate" and I might expect trouble!!! I concede it is violent but it's very true to the violence of that period and we show 'Glory' as well. I now know it's rated 'R' (for violence; the "Love Scene" is suggested, not graphic, and can easily be dealt with.) I honestly hadn't looked at the rating when I pre-screened it for myself BEFORE I showed it to them.
: : So I have a Big Question to you LOTM fans: What age is 'appropriate' for this film to be seen by young people?
: : I must also tell you that I had "concerned parents" (read: Evangelical Christians) express dismay that I showed 'The Crucible' in class (with the bare "butt" shot carefully covered up) and was told by the administration, in no uncertain terms, not to show it again because "witchcraft" is offensive to some of our district's families. I know, I know: the irony of that situation was delicious and distressing at the same time. It must be Daniel Day Lewis movies! I'm so depressed about the whole thing, I'm seriously considering ditching a ten year career in teaching. Maybe work in a bar with "adults" after working in schools with "intellectuals"? Anyway, if I do quit (or get fired), maybe I'll show 'My Beautiful Launderette' on my last day (just kidding, in case THEY see this!)
: : Anyway, please advise me: When did you show your kids this movie or at what age do you, especially you teachers out there, think students can "handle" this?

: I saw LOTM when it first came out in the theatres back in'92, I was 12 yrs. old at the time. My parents went and saw it first, to make sure there was nothing inappropriate in it, and then I went and saw it with my dad. In high school my English teacher showed it to the 11th grade American Literature class. I don't know what grade you teach, but back when I was in middle school they didn't show 'R' rated films, but I do think it is appropriate for high schoolers. Especially since the legal age to view an 'R' rated film at the theatres is 17 (ever since the "Columbine incident" theatres around here have been carding anyone who looks like they might be under 17). Also you mentioned your school shows "Glory", personally I think "Glory" is more violent than LOTM (there's no exploding heads or missing limbs in LOTM). I believe the violence in LOTM is relatively mild compared to recent films such as Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line, and if LOTM was rated today in 2000 it would get a 'PG-13', rather than the 'R' it got back in 1992.

: On another note, I encourage you as a history teacher to make sure you explain to your US History students that LOTM is NOT history, but Michael Mann's own stylized version of history. There are so many appaling historical inaccuracies in the film. Through-out high school I was always disappointed with History teachers presenting a "sugar coated" version of history rather than reality. When I first saw the film I ignorantly accepted the history presented in LOTM has reality. Only in recent years, after researching and constantly reading about the F&I War have I discovered how inaccurate the film really is.

: But don't you all get me wrong, I love LOTM and have seen it way more times than I can remember. As a work of art the film is excellent, M.Mann's style is beautiful. But as history, the film is utter trash.

: -Brent

Brent, Gally, and All,

Keep in mind, also, that the original Cooper novel was not historically accurate, either. Although it was built around the actual event of the surrender and massacre at Fort William Henry, it was no more than an historical novel. With the exception of some of the historic figures, such as Webb, Munro and Montcalm, all the characters were fictional, including the daughters of Munro - Munro had no daughters! However, the fabric of the very popular novel has been firmly entwined in the public mind with the history for nearly 200 years.

Then, Michael Mann rewrote the novel into the movie, and the public was presented with a wonderful, stirring story that is far easier to digest than the novel, and certainly more entertaining than reading military and political history. In defense of Mann's revision, I would say he did the very best any human being could possibly have done to capture the historic aspects of the period while working within the politically correct guidelines of today's audiences.

Although it seems to be the path of least resistance for most teachers simply to show the movie and call it history, at least it does make today's students aware that such historic fiascos actually occurred. Those who are academically oriented will eventually research the history of the period, and those who are not will be enjoy seeing a wonderful movie and leave it at that. Either way, it's a plus.


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