Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

Terms of Use   



    SUBJECTS — Biography; Music/Classical; World/England & Ireland;

    Age: 6 - 12; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 1996; 51 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:     George Frideric Handel's career is in tatters. He is invited to Dublin to present the premiere of a new work, but Dublin has a dearth of singers adequate for the job. Then Handel meets Jamie O'Flaherty, a street urchin with a beautiful voice. The two save each other.

    Benefits of the Movie:     This film is one of the award-winning Composers' Specials. It will introduce children to Handel (1685-1759) and to "The Messiah," perhaps his greatest work. The story is fantasy based upon many historical elements. In 1740, Handel's successes with Italian opera were no more. The tastes of the English middle class had changed and now favored serious religious works, such as the oratorio. Handel's trip to Dublin to stage the first performance of "The Messiah" marked a turning point in his career.

    The appearance of an elderly Jonathan Swift as Handel's avuncular and forgetful host adds a delightful touch.

    Possible Problems:    None.

    Parenting Points:     Around the time that your child watches this movie, play some of Handel's music and tell your child what it is. Ask and answer the Quick Discussion Question. If your child is very interested in the film, go through some of the other Discussion Questions.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  This film is a part of the Composers' Specials. The series received the 1996 CableACE Award for Best Children's Series and was a Gemini Award Winner (Canada's Emmy) for Best Youth Program or Series. The series also received the American Library Association's Recommendation to all public schools and libraries in 1996. "Handel's Last Chance" itself won the Oppenheim Golden Seal Award for Best Children's Videos and the KIDS FIRST Award for Best Children's Video from The Coalition for Quality Children's Video.

      Featured Actors:  Leon Pownall, Todd Fennell, Gerard Parkes, Seanna McKenna, Cody Jones, Steven Miller, Jennifer Rockett.

      Director:  Milan Cheylov.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   Handel was an extremely talented musician. Why did he have to fight for his audiences and change to please them? What does Handel's ability to do this say about his talent as a musician?

Suggested Response: Tastes in music change. Most musician's can't change with the times. It was a tribute to Handel's genius that he was able to adapt to new tastes and create outstanding music. 

    Helpful Background:

    Handel's choral music is unsurpassed in its directness, power and effectiveness at illustrating biblical text and revealing human nature. He interweaves massive but simple harmonic passages with ingenious contrapuntal sections. His solo voices have beautiful melodic lines.

    Handel was born, educated and began his early career in Lower Saxony, a part of Germany. He spent three years in Italy absorbing the Italian style of music. When he returned to Germany he served as director of music ("Kapellmeister") for George Louis, a German prince who ruled the City of Hanover, taking frequent leaves of absence to work in London where his Italian operas were popular.

    In 1714, George Louis was crowned King George I of England and Handel had no need to return to Germany. He never lived on the mainland of Europe again and he eventually became an English citizen. He sought to compose music popular with the English mass audience. His first successes were in Italian opera but later English tastes changed, and the growing middle class found these works profane. Handel suffered severe financial hardship because of his support for several unsuccessful Italian opera companies. He went heavily into debt. Finally, in about 1741, he abandoned Italian opera and switched to the oratorio and the ode. In an oratorio, a tale from the Bible, is told using orchestra, chorus and soloists. Handel brought this form of music to full development and perfected it. He also composed a wide variety of other music including orchestral and harpsichord music.

    The composition of "The Messiah" in 1741 marked the end of Handel's work in Italian opera. The premise of this film, that Handel had fallen on hard times, needed something new to revive his career, and found it in "The Messiah," is consistent with the historical record. "The Messiah" was first performed in Dublin in 1742.

    By the time of his death, Handel was considered by the English to be an English musician. He was buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey as a national hero. Handel's music became increasingly popular in Germany which, with substantial justification, has claimed him as well. The Italians also have a musical claim on Handel because Handel's years in Italy profoundly influenced his work throughout the rest of his life.


Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: oratorio; debtor's prison.

MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: This film is one of an excellent series about classical composers created specially for children ages 6 - 12. Others include: Bizet's Dream, Bach's Fight for Freedom, Strauss: The King of Three Quarter Time, and Rossini's Ghost. The first and most successful film in the series Beethoven Lives Upstairs, is appropriate for ages 9 - 12.
  Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Become a TWM Fan on

    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    1.  Handel was an extremely talented musician. Why did he have to fight for his audiences and change to please them?

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)

    1.  List out the incidents of honesty and dishonesty in this film? Was any of Jamie's lying or stealing justified.


    (Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)

    2.  If no one had cared about Jamie, what would have happened to him?

    3.  If no one had cared for Jamie's mother, what would have happened to her?

Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!

    Bridges to Music: If you feel your children can appreciate them, play a recording of "The Messiah" or perhaps Handel's "Water Music."



© TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Note that unless otherwise indicated any quotations attributed to a source, photographs, illustrations, maps, diagrams or paintings were copied from public domain sources or are included based upon the "fair use" doctrine. No claim to copyright is made as to those items. DVD or VHS covers are in the public domain. TeachWithMovies.org®, TeachWithMovies.com®, Talking and Playing with Movies™, and the pencil and filmstrip logo are trademarks of TeachWithMovies.com, Inc.

TWM grants free limited licenses to copy TWM curriculum materials only to educators in public or non-profit schools and to parents trying to help educate their children. See TWM's Terms of Use for a full description of the free licenses and limits on the rights of others to copy TWM.