How to Read a Movie like a Book: The Hunger Games

With Sherry Rosenthal

Lesson Plan

Grades: 6-12

In a world where information and entertainment often come in visual rather than print form, it is important to have critical tools to interpret visual media as we would written texts. In his groundbreaking book How to Read a Film (Oxford University Press:1997) James Monaco identifies six components of movies that, once understood, enable a viewer to “read” a cinematic work as one might a book.

These are:

1) Meaning;

2) Basic Elements;

3) Mise-en-scene;

4) Cinematography;

5) Montage, and

6) Sound.

Identifying and understanding these six elements allows the viewer of a film to gain knowledge of it as a text, including its integrity and intent. This lesson provides a demonstration of how to “read” the film The Hunger Games (dir. Gary Ross, 2012) and offers in-depth analysis, using examples from this film, of the six components identified by Monaco.

Materials: Computer, The Hunger Games DVD, stills from the movie The Hunger Games taken from Google Images