If you’re not familiar with OpenCulture.Com, you probably should be. It not only has a ton of free resources across media, but also adds a tremendous amount of value by categorizing, curating, grouping, and commenting upon them. Its set of links to free online movies is particularly inviting, and right away, just through casual browsing, you’ll notice a bunch of titles that connect to literature. And even if these aren’t enough for you, just scroll down the page and you’ll get annotated links to many other free online film archives and other resources (such as PBS).
Anyway, here’s a sampling:
- Animal Farm. Also included on this page are Open Culture’s links to free versions of the novel itself, plus other Orwell-related materials.
- In The Night Kitchen. This is the 1980 animated version, and again, there are other interesting links on the page, in this case Sendak-related of course.
- Shakespeare. More animation in the form of three brief (about ten-minute) adaptations that aired on HBO and BBC. The subtitles here simply display the spoken text, which seems like a nice feature when viewing Shakespeare.
Speaking of subtitles, Open Culture also led to me a YouTube upload of that classic short film of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” that aired on The Twilight Zone… except here Spanish-speakers (ELL’s?) can follow along.
Another go-to resource for me has been the Internet Archive’s repository of feature films, documentaries, short films, and more. The great thing about the Internet Archive is that you’ll actually be able to download many of the films, not just watch stream them. (Although streaming might be optimal if you’d like to share a clip, such as the famous 9:00-11:00 (roughly) segment of the Oscar-winning Cyrano De Bergerac, in which the title character brilliantly demonstrates different forms of rhetoric.)
As an example, here’s one of the hauntingly beautifully silent versions of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” I feel it really captures the essence of Poe: poetry plus horror.
And if documentaries about horror authors might appeal to you, Crackle (Sony’s free-viewing platform) has this interesting biography, complete with commentary from Neil Gaiman and other modern masters of the macabre: Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown.
Of course the American Masters TV series is a terrific resource when it comes to biographical docs, and its site often features lesson plans and other materials for educators. A recent title of note is Mary Murphy’s thoughtful film about Harper Lee entitled Hey, Boo; you can watch it in its entirety here… as well as continue to watch this space for a chat with Ms. Murphy prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird.