Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

Terms of Use   



    SUBJECTS — Biography; Music/Classical; World/Canada;
    MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS --- Responsibility.
    Age: 14+; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 1993; 94 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:    These vignettes provide impressions of Canada's most renowned classical musician of the 20th century. Glenn Gould (1932 - 1982) was a performer, recording artist, broadcaster, radio and television producer, and an extremely interesting man.

    Some critics call this movie "One of the best biopics of all time ... [It] took its structure from Gould's most famous performance, Bach's 'Goldberg' Variations. The vignettes, some verbatim reenactments, some whole cloth, added up to a rich vivid film portrait that did justice to its subject by leaving his mysteries intact." "New Rules for 'based on a true story'", by Ann Hornady (Washington Post) Los Angeles Times, Friday, December 26, 2007, pp. E26 & 27. (This picture is cited to support Ms. Hornady's proposition that: "The messy, contradictory, adamantly nonlinear truth of a life is much better served by a film that doesn't shoehorn its subject into a neat, three-act structure." Ibid.)

    Benefits of the Movie:     This film will introduce children to Glenn Gould, his beautiful music, and his eccentricities. Children interested in classical music, may want to buy some Glenn Gould CDs after seeing this film.

    Possible Problems:    NONE. This is a beautiful and sophisticated film raising substantial issues about the relationship of artists to the world and to their audiences. It will be appreciated most by children who are themselves performers or who already have a strong interest in classical music.

    Parenting Points:     This film will probably interest children who are involved with classical music. Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question.

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

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  1993 Genie Awards (Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television): Best Picture, Best Direction (Girard), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing; 1994 Sao Paulo International Film Festival: International Jury Award.

      Featured Actors:  Colm Feore.

      Director:  Francois Girard.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Some musicians, actors and dancers are stimulated and challenged by the same inherent imperfections in performance that drove Gould out of live performances and into the recording studio. Can you explain why?

Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question. Possible explanations include: (1) When the artist's performance approaches perfection, the triumph and beauty are all the greater; and (2) performance is communication with an audience; you cannot have communication without the audience.

    Helpful Background:

    At the age of 32, at the height of his career as a concert pianist, Glenn Gould stopped performing. Unable to bear what he considered to be the imperfections of performance, he retired to the recording studio.

    Gould would dress in ways that drew attention to himself but insulated him from the weather and from people. He wanted to be noticed and heard, but he did not want to be touched.


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  Click here for Standard Questions Suitable for Any Documentary Film

    2.  What is an artist's responsibility to the public?

    3.  How can an artist be called a social dictator? Do you agree that artists are social dictators? What if the audience leaves or simply fails to come?

    4.  Why would an artist want anonymity?

    5.  Yehudi Menuhin observed that Glenn Gould sought to create his own life and to live it to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Do you think that this is an admirable way to live? Tell us the reason for your answer.

    6.  Gould required hours alone to heal from contact with others. Do you find a need for solitude?

    7.  Why did Gould soak his arms in hot water before a performance?

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Become a TWM Fan on

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.

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.

    Bridges to Reading: None.


© 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.