So we’re finishing up a modern play unit (see my previous thoughts about The Flick), and I wanted students to see how popular plays can turn into films. I decided to show the 2005 film adaptation of David Auburn’s Proof. What I love about this film is that we can watch 20-30 minutes of it and then have an in-depth 20-30 minute conversation about it. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the play is PG-13, so I don’t have to worry about inappropriate scenes (there’s one intimate one, and I just fast-forwarded through it.) The issues in the play include many my students want to talk about: mental illness, taking care of ailing parents, making decisions about college, relationships (between siblings and significant others).
Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Anthony Hopkins do an incredible job bringing the play to life. I asked my students how they can see this film as different from others since it was originally a play and they responded: the scenes seem to be only in a few settings, the dialogue seems more intense, and the setting seems less important. I was fascinated in the differences they noticed.
So if you’re looking for a great mini-unit for your students, reading, watching, and discussing Proof might be just the thing to engage seniors in class discussions.