Teaching for Visual Literacy: 50 Great Young Adult FilmsAlan B. Teasley
In any gathering of language arts teachers, reading specialists, and librarians, someone usually gets around to blaming students' lack of reading on their near-addiction to film and video. As English teachers who love both books and movies, we argue that the problem is not quite so simple. We know many adults who are both avid readers and filmgoers; in fact, movies often motivate us to read particular books or to find further information about something we've seen in a film.
We see a problem not so much with the quantity of films and videos that students watch but with the passive nature of so much of their viewing and with the quality of the films they choose to watch. Over the past eight years we have been working with middle and high school students to become thoughtful, active viewers and to challenge ourselves to find ways to engage students in conversation about good films. We just don't believe that our students have to choose between reading and viewing. They can, in fact, do both -- at sophisticated levels -- when teachers challenge them appropriately.
We believe that it's important to use films in language arts classes and to do so in ways that go beyond the "read-the-book-see-the-movie" patterns we observe so frequently. This pattern does disservice to both films and books, particularly when teachers portray reading the novel as the "hard work" and seeing the movie as a treat or reward. Even when the teacher engages the students in comparison/contrast analysis of the book and film, the teacher often conveys the message, intentionally or unintentionally, that books are inherently better than movies.
We have developed strategies for teaching film that honor the art of film for what it is, not what it isn't -- strategies that enable students to understand what films do, not just what films can't do. Sometimes we have taught film terminology as a way of promoting "close reading" of film "texts."( Basic Film Terms: A Visual Dictionary , Pyramid Film & Video, Box 1948, Santa Monica, CA 90406, is a good resource for this purpose.) Students then analyze film clips, write film reviews, and study film genres such as westerns and detective films.
When we study a whole film as part of a unit on a particular theme or historical period, we use an approach modeled after the "reader response"approaches to teaching literature. In this "viewer response" approach, teachers move away from their more traditional role of being the source of all relevant information and the final judge on matters of interpretation to the role of facilitator, listener, clarifier, guide, and consensus-builder. In turn, the student's role changes from that of passive receiver of the teacher's interpretation to that of an active constructor of meaning who respects a variety of responses and interpretations.
To promote this more active role on the part of students, we design a viewing guide for each film we teach. We divide up the film into meaningful chunks --one long scene or several related scenes -- with an average length of 12-15minutes. As students view the film, we encourage them to jot down notes in two boxes: one for interesting visual images and another for interesting sounds. At the end of each viewing chunk, we stop the video and give the students a few minutes to record notes in the boxes and to consider a few open-ended questions about what they've just seen. We design these questions deliberately to have no absolute right-or-wrong answers but to elicit students' feelings and opinions about events in the film. After a few minutes for reflection, the teacher opens the floor for discussion with an open-ended question such as "What did you notice about this portion of the film?" Sometimes the students initiate discussion of the questions; sometimes they surprise the teacher by noticing things or having reactions that the teacher has not anticipated. In such cases the teacher listens, clarifies, asks if other students have had similar reactions, and so forth. The teacher's goal is for the students to construct an interpretation and support it with evidence from the film -- remembering that"evidence" in a film consists of actions, photography, motion, editing, sound effects, and music as well as dialogue and narration.
Viewing and discussion of the film proceed over several class periods. When the film is completed, the teacher asks students to look back over all their viewing guides and to notice any patterns that emerge. The teacher may also give the students a list of open-ended questions for the film as a whole. The concluding discussion provides an opportunity for students to deal with ideas and patterns in the entire film. Follow-up writing assignments can include writing a review, analyzing the film as an example of a particular genre, explicating a particular theme in the film, or comparing some aspect of the film to another film or to a work of literature.
The viewer response approach works particularly well with films about adolescent issues. Recently we have been viewing a number of films in order to identify a body of "young adult films" analogous to the YA novels used in our language arts classes -- films that students would enjoy and that would be appropriate for students to analyze and evaluate. As we have scoured video stores and perused reference lists and catalogs, we have developed the following criteria for selection -- a definition, if you will, of "YA cinema."
1. The protagonist of the film is 10-19 years old. We have eliminated some excellent films with younger protagonists ( Careful, He Might Hear You and Small Change ) and other films with young people in subsidiary plots ( Entre Nous ). We want films that focus on adolescents.
2. Students are not as likely to have seen the film. We have not included such widely viewed films as Ferris Bueller's Day Off , Stand By Me , Dead Poets Society , or Dirty Dancing because students have usually seen these films multiple times. Even though these may be excellent portrayals of adolescence, why spend limited class time on something that students are already so familiar with?
3. The film deals with issues of concern to adolescents. We have looked for films that deal with questions of identity, belonging, friendship, coming of age, family relationships, and death. Typically we have not considered horror, fantasy, or martial arts films.
4. The film is "teachable," that is, artful enough to warrant class time or student study. We have excluded films with overly formulaic plots, schmaltzy narrations, or gratuitous sex and violence. We have asked ourselves,"Can you imagine using this film in class?" If the answer is "no," we haven't included it.
(Note: The Motion Picture Association of American rating of the films has not automatically been a consideration in our selection. Clearly, teachers should be cautious in their use of PG-13 films with middle school students or of R-rated films with any "under-17" audience. For each R-rated film on the list we have weighed the benefits of using the film against the potential problems. We are concerned about students' right to view as well as their right not to view. We advise teachers to know their community, their students, and their reasons for using a particular film -- and to obtain parental permission in any cases that might present problems. Our inclusion of a film on this list indicates we could imagine using these films in classrooms, and that they are worth teachers' consideration.)
5. The film is not an adaptation of a "classic" or of a widely read YA novel. Because we want to encourage teachers to move away from the practice of showing films of novels studied in class, we have deliberately excluded film adaptations of the high school "canon." Hence, the list does not include To Kill a Mockingbird , Tex , A Separate Peace , I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , or either version of Lord of the Flies .
6. As a group, the films present a wide variety of protagonists, settings, and issues. Since there were initially more films with white, middle-class boys, we have looked particularly for films that would give the list gender, ethnic, geographic, and historical diversity.
Information in parentheses includes the country of origin, director, year of release, MPAA rating ("NR" means "not rated"), and length. The annotations give an indication of the plot, characters, setting, and theme.
Alan & Naomi (US, Sterling Van Wagenen, 1991, PG, 95 min.). Alan is a Jewish boy living in New York at the end of World War II. When Alan would rather be playing stick ball in the streets, his parents make him spend time with Naomi, a French refugee girl whose experiences in Nazi-occupied France have left her catatonic. Alan and Naomi develop a friendship that helps her begin to live and trust again. Great portrayal of the friendship between the boy and girl.
American Graffiti (US, George Lucas, 1973, PG, 112 min.). On the night before high school graduates Steve and Curt are to leave for college, they spend time with their friends John and Terry, riding around to various hangouts, going to a school dance, meeting new girls, witnessing a drag race, and so forth. Set in 1962, this slice of life shows Steve and Curt examining their priorities as they choose between home and college, between safety and the unknown. The nonstop rock-and-roll soundtrack comments on the action.
Au Revoir les Enfants (France, Louis Malle, 1987, PG, 104 min.). During World War II, two French schoolboys in a Catholic boarding school become friends. The conflict arises when it becomes apparent that one of the boys is a Jewish student who is being hidden in the school to protect him from the Germans. Noteworthy: the strong friendship between Jean and Julien and the character of the priest who works to save Jewish children.
Boyz N the Hood (US, John Singleton, 1991, R, 122 min.). This critically acclaimed film by first-time director John Singleton (25 at the time he wrote and directed it!) tells the story of three friends growing up in South Central Los Angeles: Doughboy, a drug dealer; his brother Ricky, bound for college on a football scholarship; and Tre, the focal character, longing to make something of his life but not immune to his surroundings. Particularly moving is the strong relationship between Tre and his father (appropriately named Furious Styles). The film is often bleak and violent, but there is hope. The world of the film is undeniably real. (R rating is probably the result of the language and violence.)
Breaking Away (US, Peter Yates, 1979, PG, 100 min.). "The Cutters," a group of working-class recent high school graduates, find themselves at odds with their families and with the college kids in their Indiana town. They enter a bike race and learn to accept themselves as they "break away" from childhood and from their underdog self-images.
Cinema Paradiso (Italy, Giuseppe Tornatore, 1989, NR, 123 min.). Salvatore, growing up in Sicily in the years following World War II, is drawn to the local theater, Cinema Paradiso. The projectionist, Alfredo, befriends Salvatore, watches over him as he grows toward manhood, and encourages him to leave Sicily to become a filmmaker. The film is shown mostly in flashback with an adult Salvatore returning to his village after becoming a successful filmmaker. The last scene is a must for all lovers of film!
Clara's Heart (US, Robert Mulligan, 1988, PG-13, 108 min.). Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris star in this story of a young boy (around 12 years old) whose infant sister has died, throwing the family into turmoil. As his parents go through a divorce, the boy confides in their Jamaican housekeeper.
Dark Horse (US, David Hemmings, 1992, PG, 95 min.). Fifteen-year-old Allie has a difficult time coping with the death of her mother followed by the family's move from Los Angeles to a small town. She gets in with the wrong crowd in her new school and eventually in trouble with the law. As part of her probation she works weekends on a horse farm, where she meets Jet, a wild-spirited horse who has been resistant to training. Girl and horse tame each other in this film about overcoming loss and growing up.
December (US, Gabe Torres, 1991, PG, 92 min.). A group of prep schoolboys reacts to the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This film takes place in less than one day as the boys decide whether they will stay at school or enlist to fight in the war. Secondary plot concerns a censorship issue involving How Johnny Got His Gun .
El Norte (US, Gregory Nava, 1983, R, 139 min.). This independent American film tells the story of a teenage brother and sister who journey from their native Guatemala through Mexico and (illegally) into the United States. Life in California is alien and confusing as they try to find work, learn English, and avoid being deported.
Emerald Forest, The (US, John Boorman, 1985, R, 100 min.) An American businessman and his family live in Brazil while he works on a project that involves cutting down part of a rain forest for development. One day his young son disappears into the forest, kidnapped by a tribe of Indians known for their "invisibility." Ten years later, the father encounters his son, now completely assimilated by the Indians. For the son, the father is the living manifestation of "Dadeh," a dream from his childhood. This is an excellent film to use in a discussion of cultural differences or of the meaning of "civilization." (R rating is the result of the natural nudity of the native people and a few sexual situations.)
Empire of the Sun (US, Steven Spielberg, 1987, PG, 153 min.). Jim Graham, an English boy, is separated from his parents in Shanghai, China, at the beginning of World War II. Jim spends four years in an internment camp, where his time is divided between helping other British prisoners cope with deprivation, and learning survival tips from fellow prisoner and American con-artist, Basie. Strong young male protagonist. This is a great film to teach! Visually it is skillfully done, and the story lends itself to good class discussion.
Europa, Europa (Germany, Agnieszka Holland, 1991, R, 115 min.). Solomon Perel is a teenage German Jew. When his sister is killed by Nazis in 1938, the family moves to Poland, beginning a series of incredible events for young Solly. He escapes to Russia, living for a time in a Communist orphanage. He is recaptured by the Nazis and eventually ends up in a training school for elite members of the Hitler Youth. Solly survives by keeping his Jewish identity secret -- not an easy task in the environment of the school. This is a compelling story, made all the more so because it is true. (Rated R for nudity and anatomical subplot.)
400 Blows, The (France, François Truffaut, 1959, NR, 99 min.). Twelve-year-old Antoine Doinel (an alter ego for Truffaut featured in several subsequent films) is having a troubled adolescence: conflict with and between his parents, boring and irrelevant teachers, and brushes with the law for petty crimes. This enduring classic of the French New Wave would provide an excellent contrast with more contemporary films about teenagers.
Gallipoli (Australia, Peter Weir, PG, 111 min.). Set in 1915. Two young Australian runners go from rivalry to friendship as they set off together to join the army to help Australia in its fight against the Turks at Gallipoli. The film has wonderful scenes of the Australian outback and gives a sense of the national pride of the Australian people.
Great Santini, The (US, Lewis John Carlino, 1979, PG, 116 min.). Based on the novel by Pat Conroy, this film focuses on the conflict between a domineering Marine father and his 18-year-old son. Several scenes powerfully depict the violence of this "dysfunctional" family. A secondary plot involves a friendship between the son and a simple-minded black man.
Gregory's Girl (Scotland, Bill Forsyth, 1981, NR, 87 min.). Gregory, a gawky teenager, plays soccer on his school team. When Dorothy joins the previously all-boy team, Gregory falls in love for the first time. Gregory is an appealing character whose vulnerability will strike a chord in younger teenagers.
Hoosiers (US, David Anspaugh, 1986, PG, 114 min.). A basketball coach with a mysterious past arrives in a small town in Indiana to take over the high school basketball team. His coaching techniques irritate the parents, but his success with the team and with the individual players make this a heart-warming film.
Hope and Glory (Great Britain, John Boorman, 1987, PG-13, 118 min.). Billy Rowan, an English boy, spends World War II in London during the Blitz, and through his eyes this film documents the lives of his family. His father Clive dreams of fighting for England but instead becomes an army clerk. His mother Grace holds her family together during the bombing. His sister Dawn falls in love with a Canadian flyer. Another noteworthy character is Billy's grandfather who is simultaneously irascible and lovable.
Housekeeping (US, Bill Forsyth, 1988, PG, 112 min.). Two orphan sisters come into the custody of their free-spirited aunt in the 1950s. Her lack of responsibility charms one of them and alienates the other. Themes presented: responsibility and family relationships.
Journey of Natty Gann, The (US, Jeremy Kagan, 1985, PG, 101 min.). In1935, teenager Natty Gann is separated from her father when he suddenly leaves Chicago for a job in Washington state. When she runs afoul of the landlady, Natty sets out to find her father by "riding the rails" west. Along the way she is befriended by a wolf and meets a variety of "down-and-out" drifters.
La Boum (France, Claude Pinoteau, 1980, NR, 100 min.). When thirteen-year-old Vic's family moves to a new town, her life is thrown into upheaval. First she must figure out how to make friends in her new surroundings, then how to navigate the "boums" (big weekend parties) given by her new friends. Meanwhile her parents are having problems of their own.
Lantern Hill (US, Kevin Sullivan, 1989, NR, 110 min.). Jane Stuart is twelve years old in 1935 when her mother's illness forces her to live with a houseful of cold, snooty relatives in Toronto. Jane's misery is compounded when the father she has always believed dead sends for her to visit him at his home on Prince Edward Island. Arriving in the small community, Jane discovers that her father is suspected of murder. She learns the truth and comes to understand her father, helped in part by a local woman with special powers.
Learning Tree, The (US, Gordon Parks, 1969, PG, 107 min.). Newt Winger, a fifteen-year-old black boy, comes of age during the 1920s in Kansas. In the course of this episodic film, based on Parks' autobiographical novel, Newt falls in love for the first time, faces a bully, and struggles against the expectations of the school system. During one scene, a white teacher discourages him from taking a college prep course of study because "Negroes generally don't go to college, and if they do, they usually end up as porters." In another scene, Newt has to decide whether to come forward with evidence in a controversial trial. (Note: language contains racial epithets.)
Let Him Have It (Great Britain, Peter Medak, 1991, R, 115 min.). Set in 1950's London, this film is based on a true story that was responsible for changes in England's death penalty. Because 19-year-old Derek Bentley is slow-witted and a bit too trusting of his teenage friends, he gets involved with a group of thieves who model themselves on Hollywood gangsters. During one burglary, his younger friend Chris pulls a gun on a policeman, who asks him to hand it over. Derek says, "Let him have it, Chris," and the boy shoots and kills the policeman. Derek faces trial for murder as an adult while Chris is remanded to juvenile court. The outcome of the trial turns on the interpretation of Derek's statement: was he encouraging the murder, or telling Chris to hand over the gun? Although the film is slow-going in the beginning, the last part of the film (the trial and its aftermath) is riveting and provides an excellent case study for debates on capital punishment.
Lucas (US, David Seltzer, 1986, PG-13, 100 min.). Lucas, a gifted fourteen-year old, is the high school nerd. When a new girl arrives in town, she and Lucas become friends. Lucas is devastated when she tries out for cheerleader and begins to ignore him for the more popular kids at school. Lucas tries to get her attention by trying out for the football team. This film is a sensitive look at the issues of popularity and belonging.
Man in the Moon, The (US, Robert Mulligan, 1991, PG-13, 99 min.). Two sisters, one fourteen and one eighteen, fall in love with the same neighbor boy in the summer of 1957 in rural North Carolina. During this summer they each learn about life, love, and death. This film shows a tightly-knit family with a particularly strong and honest relationship between the younger sister and her father.
My American Cousin (Canada, Sandy Wilson, 1985, PG, 94 min.). Feisty, twelve-year-old Sandy Wilcox complains that nothing ever happens on her ranch in Canada. All of that changes when Butch, her college-age American cousin, arrives for a visit in his Cadillac convertible. While Sandy enjoys Butch's exploits, her parents are horrified by his influence on their daughter. The film explores the themes of growing up, taking responsibility, and family relationships.
My Bodyguard (US, Tony Bill, 1980, PG, 96 min.). Clifford Peache is a high-school sophomore who has transferred to a new school. As the "new kid," he learns about rejection and teenage terrorism. In seeking a bodyguard, Clifford learns the dark truth about Ricky Linderman, an alleged "mass murderer." Cliff and his eccentric grandmother reach out to Ricky, and in accepting Ricky, Cliff learns about his own strength.
My Brilliant Career (Australia, Gillian Armstrong, 1979, G, 102 min.). Sybilla is a headstrong girl living in the late nineteenth century Australian outback. She goes to live with her grandmother on a large ranch, but finds it difficult to conform to the expectations of young ladies of the time. She gets involved with a dashing young man and eventually must choose between settling down with him and finding her own calling.
My Father's Glory/My Mother's Castle (France, Yves Robert, 1991, G/PG,110 min./98 min.). These two companion films, which take place in turn-of-the-century France, center on a bright young boy whose school-teacher father takes his family on holiday to a village in Provence. In My Father's Glory , the boy falls in love with the countryside and never wants to leave, even when he must return home to prepare for national examinations. The sequel, My Mother's Castle , shows the family, which now spends every weekend at the summer house, taking a short cut by trespassing through several neighboring estates in order to save hours of travel time. One of the estate owners apprehends them and then befriends the family and treats them like his special guests.
My Life as a Dog (Sweden, Lasse Hallström, 1987, NR, 101 min.). A rambunctious boy is sent to live with relatives in a small Swedish village during the 1950s. There he meets a lively cast of village characters in this sensitive, funny, and heartwarming film.
Nasty Girl, The (Das Schreckliche Mädchen) (Germany, Michael Verhoeven, 1990, PG-13, 94 min.). Sonya Rosenberger narrates her life story, focusing on her attempt as a high school student to research and write an essay on "My Hometown During the Third Reich." At first, no one will talk to her or give her access to any documents, forcing her to sue the town. It seems that several upstanding citizens have not been honest about their actions regarding the Nazis.
Ordinary People (US, Robert Redford, 1980, R, 123 min.). Based on the novel by Judith Guest. Conrad Jarrett repeats his junior year in high school following several months in a mental hospital, where he has been after attempting suicide. With the help of a psychiatrist, Conrad comes to understand the source of his depression and feelings of worthlessness. This is a powerful film that won Academy Awards for Redford, Hutton, and Best Picture. (Rated R for adult language.)
Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick, The (Canada, Allan A. Goldstein,1988, G, 92 min.). Based on the novel by Morley Torgov. In the early 1960s, Max faces his fourteenth birthday (and bar mitzvah) as one of the few Jews in there mote Canadian town of Beausejour. Through a humorous yet believable series of experiences, Max learns important lessons about fitting in, being true toone self, and becoming a man.
Pathfinder (Norway, Nils Gaup, 1988, NR, 88 min.). Set in Lappland in the tenth or eleventh century, this film tells the story of Aigin, a young man who witnesses his family's murder by marauding thieves. He tries to warn a nearby village but is captured and forced to become the pathfinder for the thieves. This is truly a foreign film -- in time, in location, and in language (the only film ever made in Lapp!) -- but the story is a compelling one that demonstrates the sources of legends and the power of myth.
Power of One, The (US, John G. Avildsen, 1992, PG-13, 127 min.). Based on the novel by Bryce Courtney, this film tells the story of P.K., an English boy born in South Africa in 1930. Orphaned at an early age, P.K. comes of age in a prison under the dual tutelage of an elderly German pianist and a black boxing trainer. Because of stories told by the trainer, P.K. becomes something of a myth to the blacks -- the "rainmaker" who will unite the tribes and bring harmony. In 1948, as P.K. prepares to go to Oxford, he gets involved in resisting the implementation of apartheid.
Rambling Rose (US, Martha Coolidge, 1991, R, 112 min.). A boy growing up in Georgia in the mid 1930s learns about life and love when his family takes in Rose, a girl with a big heart but with a zest for life and a knack for getting in trouble. Through the eyes of this teenage narrator, the film shows the reactions of the family, particularly the father, as a straight-laced Southern family deals with this young woman whom they have come to love but who is a constant embarrassment to them.
Running on Empty (US, Sidney Lumet, 1988, PG-13, 116 min.). High school senior Danny is a talented pianist and wants to go to Julliard. However, he lives with his parents and younger brother "underground" because his parents are wanted by the FBI for a politically motivated bombing fifteen years earlier. Danny has grown to accept the necessity of moving from town to town and taking another identity on a moment's notice, but when he falls in love with a girl and decides to pursue his interest in music, he knows he will have to choose between his desires and his family. The strong portrayal of the closely-knit family is noteworthy. (Rated PG-13 for language.)
Samurai I (Japan, Hiroshi Inagaki, 1954, NR, 92 min.). In this, the first film of the Samurai trilogy, Takezo (later to become the famous samurai Musashi Miyamoto) is young, wild, and foolish. Taken in hand by a Buddhist priest who teaches him first discipline and then the way of the samurai, Takezo begins the training which eventually makes him one of the most respected men in medieval Japan.
Sitting in Limbo (Canada, John N. Smith, 1986, PG, 95 min.). This film documents the relationship of high school students Pat and Fabian, a black couple living in Montreal. Pat faces impending motherhood while Fabian drops out of high school to find work. In the months the film covers, Pat and Fabian learn a great deal about the reality of life as they cope with a shadyland lord, a tight budget, and adult responsibilities. The characters and situations in this film are compelling.
Stand and Deliver (US, Ramon Mendenez, 1988, PG, 105 min.). A high school teacher does the impossible when he takes a group of low-achieving Hispanic high school students and prepares them for the Advanced Placement Test in calculus. A real can-do film!
Sugar Cane Alley (Martinique, Euzhan Palcy, 1983, NR, 100 min.). José is a bright young boy growing up in the cane fields in Martinique. His grandmother recognizes his gifts and is determined that he become educated and leave Sugar Cane Alley and the hard life of the cane cutters. The special relationship between the grandmother and her young grandson is a highlight of this film.
This Is My Life (US, Nora Ephron, 1992, PG, 94 min.). Julie Kavner plays single mom Dottie Ingels, a saleswoman at Bloomingdales who dreams of being a standup comic. As she begins to be successful at comedy, her daughters have to grow up without her. It's especially hard on Erica the fifteen-year old; ten-year-old Opal seems a bit more resilient. Funny and sentimental -- with lots of wry observations on growing up and on parent/child relationships.
28 Up (Great Britain, Michael Apted, 1985, NR, 136 min.). This documentary chronicles the lives of a group of English twenty-eight-year olds who were first interviewed at age seven. Clips from interviews with the young people at ages 7, 14, 21, and now at age 28 show a good insight into the levels of English society and the paths these different individuals' lives have taken.
Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (US, Jim Abrahams, 1990, PG-13, 98 min.). Roxy Carmichael left her small town in Ohio, her teenage boyfriend, and her baby sixteen years before to go to Hollywood. Now she's coming home to a town celebration in her honor. A high school girl, convinced that she is the baby Roxy left behind, prepares to meet her mother. This film presents an interesting study in a teenager's need to belong.
Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (US, Steve Miner, 1991, G, 89 min.). This is the true story of Sonora Webster, the girl who rode the diving horses in Atlantic City in the 1930s. Sonora is a strong female protagonist, who persists in achieving something significant when the adults in her life try to discourage her.
World Apart, A (US, Chris Menges, 1988, PG, 135 min.). Molly Roth is a white teenager living in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1963. Her parents are active in the black Africans' struggle for independence from Apartheid. When her father suddenly leaves to escape arrest and her mother risks her own freedom to continue the fight, Molly finds herself torn between love for and loyalty to her parents and her own need for security.
Year My Voice Broke, The (Australia, John Duigan, 1987, PG-13, 103min.). Set in New South Wales in 1962, this film tells the story of Danny and Freya, best friends since they were children. Now that they are in high school, Danny wants Freya to be his girlfriend, but she has become the town's "wild girl" and is drawn to Trevor, a boy older and more experienced than Danny. Nevertheless, the two friends remain fiercely loyal to each other. Danny is a sometimes pitiful but always appealing character; Freya is strong and willful, but tender-hearted, particularly in her attention to her ill grandmother.
Alan B. Teasley is Director of Instructional Programs, Durham Public Schools, in Durham, North Carolina, and a member of the ALAN Board of Directors. Ann Wilder is an English Teacher at Southern High School in Durham.