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The next essay assignment will, hopefully, be a good lead-in to the year-long practice of doing analysis of stories or works (books, plays, movies, etc).  In most English classes you will be asked to find, state, analyze a "theme" or message and then support your statement with evidence from the book (or whatever).  So, we're going to use the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" for that purpose.  I'm using that movie for many reasons, although if you want to use another movie (or book I've read) then you are welcome to do so.  "How To Train Your Dragon" is a movie that most people like and can watch multiple times; second, it has a classic story line, colorful characters; and third, it has a variety of themes or messages very worthy of analysis.

Steps and Timing:
  1. Create a list of 3 to 5 messages with 5 to 10 spaces between them (start it 9/26/16)
  2. Watch the movie (in a few sittings) and add examples to your notes, eventually focussing more on one theme (9/26-???)
  3. Using the format of this template/organizer, write an intro, thesis, supports, and conclusion for your essay. (???)
  4. Turn that graphic organizer into an essay (???)
  5. Revise draft (???) and turn in (???)

Below are the notes that I wrote during and after watching the movie:

Trust Your Gut
-like when Hiccup and Toothless are doing their first major test flights and Hiccup, he tries to fly by using his instructions, but when he tosses them, he ends up "trusting his gut" and flying by instinct instead of just instructions.

Tension of Parent-Teen Relations
-the dad has expectations of Hiccup that don't match his character, interests, or talents.
-they have a hard time communicating with each other
-when things get tough, they can pull together
-they don't know what to talk about and are uncomfortable (scene when H. gets the "hat")
-"Dad, for once in your life, please listen to me".  "You're not my son".
-dialog between Hiccup and Bogger (?) at the beginning of the movie.  "barmaid..."

Try Try Again / Perseverence
-like how Hiccup has to constantly revise the design and operation of the tail in order to make it work.
-like when he tries many tactics to befriend Toothless

The Age-Dependent Double Meaning
-there are various times when the movie uses a line that has a double meaning... one that the little kids won't get but will keep the older kids (and parents) entertained.
-"the size of my...", and "in my undies"

Kindness Can Prevail Over Agression
-this was Hiccup's perspective in the arena
-like when he (and Astrid) first met Toothless
-like when he said "they aren't what we think they are... we don't have to kill them"

All "These Movies" are the Same
-the formula is predictable
-similarities between Toothless and Stitch, Astrid and Mulan

Appearances Can Be Deceiving
-the dragons are taking food to serve big-bad-dragon
-little dragon has great fire

Every Hero Has An Antagonist
-for Hiccup it is Astrid.  She pushes him to save toothless "so, what are you going to do about it"

Other ideas:
  1. Perseverance
  2. To Suspend Disbelief
  3. Fairy tale endings
  4. Stick up for what you believe
  5. The Value and Power of Friendship
  6. Symbiotic Relationships (cross-species)
  7. Power of nonverbal communication
  8. Teenage relationships
  9. Teamwork
  10. Erroneous outward appearances
  11. Social stature

Chris Heumann,
Sep 30, 2011, 10:11 AM