This year with the 9th graders, I eschewed Romeo and Juliet in favor of Othello. It was a tough decision, and one I'm not sure I'll do again (I really missed Romeo and Juliet), but over a third of my 9th graders had read R&J in middle school, and I just wanted to give them a different experience with Shakespeare.
One of the biggest drawbacks to not teaching R&J, for me, was not using Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet in the classroom. This is one of my favorite films, and such a great teaching tool, and I knew I would miss it.
However, during the teaching of Othello, I discovered the film O, which is just as good. In fact, I can't believe I've never watched it before, and it was so good, so powerful. I highly, highly recommend it if you've never watched it or never taught with it before. I sent home permission slips for the 'R' rating and fast-forwarded through the violent sex scene in the middle.
The kids love it. Or, their reaction is something like this: "I hate this movie. It's so sad. Dag, why'd you have to show us that? I'm crying." That is an actual quote today. The movie is really powerful and really well-made.
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