United States History

Movie Response Essay(s):

To earn extra credit (especially for those of you who have missing assignments), you may watch either or both of the movies listed on this page and write a response based on the questions listed below.  You must fully answer the questions, and your response must be TYPED and properly formatted.

Movie Response #1

Watch the movie the Pianist (2002).  The film is based on the

true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jewish pianist who

was very well known for his great talent. The movie begins in

1939, when the German Nazis invaded Poland, and goes up to

the end of World War II in 1945. All the Jews living in Warsaw,

the capital of Poland, were forced to live in a ghetto, and later

were sent to concentration camps. Szpilman was separated

from his family when they were sent to a camp. He escaped

the ghetto and went into hiding, and remained in hiding until

Poland was liberated from Nazi Germany in 1945.

Response Topic:

Describe how Szpilman’s experience in WWII is representative

of the experiences faced by so many other Jewish people during

the war.  Choose ONE scene from the film, describe it in detail,

and discuss how this scene made an impact upon your ideas

about the Holocaust and WWII.

Movie Response #2

Watch the movie the Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2002).  

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas depicts a fictional friendship

set during World War II. Bruno, the eight-year-old son of a

newly-promoted Nazi officer, moves with his family from a

comfortable life in Berlin to a lonely existence in the countryside.

An adventurous boy with nothing to do, Bruno ignores his

mother’s instructions not to explore the back garden and takes

off for a “farm” he has seen from his bedroom window. As he

approaches a barbed wire fence, Bruno sees Shmuel, the boy

in the striped pajamas, on the other side, and an unlikely and

life-changing friendship develops.

Response Topics (Choose ONE):

      1. Discuss the relationship between Bruno and Gretel.  Although Bruno is 9, he often seems much younger than that.  What might account for this?  Although Gretel is 12 and old enough to join the League of Young Girls, a branch of the Hitler Youth, why is she not a member, especially given her father’s position?

      2. At one point in the film, Bruno’s mother states, “We don’t have the luxury of thinking.”  After Bruno protests his family having to leave Berlin, his father states, "Do you think that I would have made such a success of my life if I hadn't learned when to argue and when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders?"  Discuss the significance of these quotes given what happens in the film, and given what happened in WWII Europe.  How might these parents feel differently by the end?

      3. What is the moral or message of the film, or what perspective did you as the viewer gain from this film?  Choose ONE scene, describe it in detail, and discuss what this scene taught you about WWII and the Holocaust.

Topic 10 extra credit opportunities