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Subject: Ancient themed movies for students? rss

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Neil Carr
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I'm running an elective this quarter for my students that I'm calling "Ancient Appendices." The class is non-credit, more of a after school type of program which just happens to be run during school hours. I am teaching about the ancient world this quarter, and so I wanted to run a parallel class that lets me use pop culture material about the ancient world that doesn't pass the threshold of being academically worthy (either due to content or practical time-wise), but which would still illuminate and highlight a lot of the details about the ancient world that we communicate on a pop-culture level.

I've been hunting around for movies, but that has been challenging. There are movies like:

Gladiator
Alexander
Troy
Rome (HBO series)

All of which are great for the elective, save for the mature content. Maybe I can rip some of these to the hard drive and edit them down to a PG-13 status, but time is always the enemy for me as a teacher, thus...

Are there PG-13 movies which rise to the production values of the above, but I can just use without fussing with them?

Then you've got the old-school movies:

I Claudius
Spartacus
Ben Hur
Cleopatra
The Ten Commandments

...and so on. Tame content, but slow and ponderous. I can watch them, but I have serious doubts my students could handle them. Again, I could rip and edit, but that is a last resort for me.

Then we have modern, but "blah" movies:

Gods of Egypt
Clash/Wrath of the Titans

These seem to be too devoid of anything with an "ancient" tone. If I'm going to go there I'd much rather play the original Clash of the Titans from 1981.

Is there something I'm missing? The ideal would be a 90 minute with modernish pacing, and evoking the ancient world either historically or mythically without being bludgeoned with CGI nonsense.
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Scott Russell
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Percy Jackson?
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Rob
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Film version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?
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Spartacus: Blood and Sand ?

Could teach them more than history so to say. whistle

I think it's hard to find anything modern below 15 years recommendation unfortunately. We want T&A nowadays.

I did find a cool list of ancient movies per region here: http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/ancient/asbookmovies.asp
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David Jones
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The best possible option comes to mind is that there was an episode of the new Doctor Who set in Pompeii and another one last year that was Viking related. However, once the stories start getting into the alien content, you're probably starting to drift away from the culture/mythology you are trying to illustrate. I don't know if your students are amicable to sci-fi or not either. Stargate (the movie, not the TV series) could have similar problems and might runs into the "mature" issue you've mentioned. You've also got the first Marvel Thor movie, most of which is set in Asgard, but I don't know how well the comic book lore really matches up with actual lore.

The BBC had a show a few years ago called Atlantis where Jason, Hercules, and Pythagoras were a team of heroes. The stories were based on a lot of Greek mythology, but the writing was below average. While it was somewhat action oriented, I don't know if it would hold modern teenagers' attention spans or not. I couldn't recommend a specific episode for you to show. Similarly, there was the Hercules TV show from the late 90s. I didn't watch it myself but I'm sure you can find an avid fan somewhere who can recommend a good episode or two for a class.

The other angle might be to come from an archaeological persepective. You have Indy Jones, the two Tomb Raider movies, and The Mummy. (I'm guessing the Brenden Frasier version wouldn't have mature issues, but I've not personally seen it.)
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1 Lucky Texan
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Jason and the Argonauts
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The 300 Spartans is pretty good (and it's old school tame). You'd probably want to fast-forward through a lot of the set up and romance aspects just for time, though.
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The Eagle might hit the right spot. It's based on a rosemary Sutcliffe novel which could also be a discussion point.

There's agora as well but from memory it might require editing depending on the kids you've got.
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Just remembered there was a kind of updated I Claudius about Augustus with peter o'Toole in it. Soapy feel but a bit less ponderous and a bit more flashy without the adult parts of Rome. Could be worth checking out, I only watched about half an hour of it a few years ago.

If you were going really to the pop culture side of things, you could look at the asterix movies too. There's English dubs if subtitles aren't an option.

There was a Pompeii movie a couple of years ago wasn't there? Probably another great one to talk about pop history. I've talked to some of those skeleton experts who are horrified by the assumptions we make about the Pompeii bodies/skeletons, ,eg, this one was a thief because he had a bag of money and bad teeth etc. basically every Pompeii movie is an extended version of reaffirming modern ideas about the ancient world.
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David Jones
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Drew1365 wrote:
A lot of the early original series were "pure historicals," without any Sci Fi elements except the time travelers themselves, which would probably fit your plan, but might not hold interest.


I thought of that as well. The Aztecs & Pyrmaids of Mars are both great episodes that fit the bill perfectly, but neither of them would hold up to modern standards of story pacing. I don't know that modern teens would find them interesting.
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My teen-age sons can barely sit still long enough to watch a sitcom, so most movies are right out; but they will watch 15 minute youtube videos one after the other, all day.

Lindybeige (on youtube) does a good job of doing history topics (like 'how realistic was Troy', for example); though it's mostly him talking, he's a good speaker and he throws in an occasional graphic. And it's only a few minutes long. There's a ton of his videos, so you can probably find something related to your topic.

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Neil Carr
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dreadpirate wrote:
Lindybeige (on youtube) does a good job of doing history topics (like 'how realistic was Troy', for example); though it's mostly him talking, he's a good speaker and he throws in an occasional graphic. And it's only a few minutes long. There's a ton of his videos, so you can probably find something related to your topic.


Good idea! I used some of his videos when I did an RPG elective and the students incorporated his ideas into their play.
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John Breckenridge
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You can go more ancient than that:
One Million BC
Clan of the Cave Bear
Quest For Fire
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Oliver Dienz
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It may depend on the age of the students but some movies from the Asterix series could work. There are the older animated ones and the newer live action. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Asterix_films Some of the animated ones are quite funny; I have not seen the live action movies yet.
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Then you have 'macabre' with that "Masada" about the Roman siege for this place. cool
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odie73 wrote:
It may depend on the age of the students but some movies from the Asterix series could work. There are the older animated ones and the newer live action. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Asterix_films Some of the animated ones are quite funny; I have not seen the live action movies yet.


The live action ones captured the tone a bit better (although it's been many years since I saw the animated ones). They're worth checking out.
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10,000 BC
Beowulf
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Hercules
History of the World: Part I
Jason and the Argonauts
The Mummy
The Odyssey
The Scorpion King
Stargate
Year One

and of course: Prometheus
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Kevin Brown
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titanticore wrote:
10,000 BC


Was going to suggest just this movie because it would be fun to have everyone jot down a list of issues!
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Caveman (Zug-Zug!)

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
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Dennis Ku
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A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum is a great suggestion! I loved that movie!

Is the original Clash of the Titans too crazy for kids? I can't remember it exactly, but I do recall watching my VHS taped-off-TV copy until the tape fell apart.
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There's a good Roman movie with great classical actors in it, O'Toole, Gielgud, Helen Mirren, Malcolm McDowell:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080491/
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Neil Carr
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
There's a good Roman movie with great classical actors in it, O'Toole, Gielgud, Helen Mirren, Malcolm McDowell:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080491/


THAT would get their attention!
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Edward Sexby
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
There's a good Roman movie with great classical actors in it, O'Toole, Gielgud, Helen Mirren, Malcolm McDowell:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080491/


You, sir, are a very, very bad man.laugh
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