31 pages 1 hour read

Frank O'Hara

Ave Maria

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1964

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“At the Movies”

In this activity, students explore cinema history during the poet’s lifetime and select a movie to investigate and review. Writers then analyze and share the ways in which the imagined experience of watching that film connect with the poem’s mood and meaning.

Choose a film that was playing during Frank O’Hara’s lifetime (1926-1966). Investigate through scholarly online resources the plot, characters, themes, and production details of the film, including how it was received by audiences. Imagine that you attend a viewing of the film at the cinema. Write a review of the film and the film-going experience as if you’re speaking to someone who never saw it. Who stars in the film? What was your favorite part? How much did the ticket cost? Add immersive details to bring the evening to life. Remember that there were no social media outlets and no internet resources during this time.

After composing your review, analyze in a separate paragraph the ways in which your imagined movie-going experience and the themes or content of the movie you “viewed” connect to the poem’s mood, meaning, or theme of Freedom Versus Constraint.

Differentiation Suggestion: Students who have difficulty expressing themselves in written language and/or students who might benefit from a more visual approach may consider photographs with captions or a mood board to share the experience instead.