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SUBJECTS — Biography/Whitman; Literature/U.S.; World/Canada;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Male Role Model; Mental Illness;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect.
Age: 12+; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Drama; 1992, 108 minutes; Color.
This film is a fictionalized account of a real life friendship between Walt Whitman and Dr. Richard Bucke, the director of an insane asylum located in a small town in Canada. The conflicts faced as Dr. Bucke attempts to bring progressive treatment to those suffering from mental illness and neurological conditions provide a context in which the value of Whitman's humanistic philosophy comes alive and the meaning of his poetry is enriched. Rip Torn's portrayal of Whitman is masterful.
Students who have seen Beautiful Dreamers feel that they have a personal relationship with Walt Whitman and they are interested in what he has to say. After they have seen this movie, students at all levels have an increased interest in reading Whitman's poetry. This movie is an excellent addition to any lesson plan on Whitman and his poetry.
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Beautiful Dreamers is an excellent way to help children enjoy the poetry of Walt Whitman.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to supplement lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to Beautiful Dreamers.
Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892), originally a printer and journalist, published Leaves of Grass in 1855. He perfected and expanded it throughout his life. Whitman's poetry celebrated democracy, equality, rugged individualism, and erotic love. Many of his subjects and much of his philosophy were radical for his time. His books were banned in some locations.
The Learning Guide to the film Beautiful Dreamers contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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