Movie Night: Cosmic Voyage

Last night we watched Cosmic Voyage, originally filmed in IMAX.

Produced with support from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, this Oscar-nominated IMAX film mixes groundbreaking computer animation with cutting-edge science to give us a sweeping view of the universe. A “cosmic zoom” extends from the surface of the Earth to the largest observable structures of the universe, and then back down into the subnuclear realm — a guided tour across 42 orders of magnitude! Morgan Freeman narrates.

film @ IMDB

We are still talking a lot about space and this tied in pretty well with our topic. I liked that it gave some sense of scale when talking about distances between cosmic objects (and microcosmic ones, too).

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Romeo, O Romeo

The kids saw a preview for the Gnomeo and Juliet movie somewhere along the way and begged to watch it.

Now, I am not a mean mom, but I do believe you ought to read the book before you see the movie.  So I told them they could see Gnomeo, but only after they had read Romeo and Juliet, otherwise they wouldn’t like it nearly as well.

My sister had given S7 a copy of Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare for her most recent birthday, so we pulled it out and found the appropriate chapter.  S7 was very surprised to learn it was a play.  We talked a little bit about William Shakespeare, whom she had encountered before in an episode of Doctor Who.  She was very curious to read the play.  It was a little harder to get through than she imagined, even though Lamb rewrites it as a tale rather than a play, but she did it with some help.  O5 also listened but found it hard to concentrate.

After reading the play, we rented the 1968 film version with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey.  They both thought Juliet was beautiful.  O5 repeatedly referred to her as “Princess Juliet.”

FINALLY, they were able to watch Gnomeo.  And they did enjoy it just like any other little kids would, with squeals and giggles at all the physical humor and sight gags.  But S7 noticed several discrepancies and was very interested in which character from the movie corresponded to those in the classic tale.   And she admitted that she was glad to have read the book first.  🙂

Composer Biographies

One of the things we’re doing this year is studying classical composers. Every few weeks, I’d like to expose the kids to a different composer, giving them a little biographical info as well as a chance to listen to a selection of respective works. This will tie in with our history studies as well as violin study and music appreciation. We decided to start with Mozart, partly because he was so prolific and his music very familiar, but also because he was quite young when he started performing and composing. I thought the girls might be interested to learn about someone who started writing famous pieces of music when he was only slightly older than they are now.

Last week we listened to an audio CD from the library that contained many of Mozart’s best-known pieces, a sort of “greatest hits”. I just put this on in the background while we were working on something else. Today we watched a DVD of A&E’s Biography series on the young composer. The girls had a difficult time understanding why we could only see paintings of Mozart in the film (no actual video or even photographs of Mozart himself). Sam wanted to know “why we can only see pictures and why we can’t hear his voice?” So this brought up the notion that he had lived many years prior to today, and in a time when movies and videos were not yet invented.

Much of the DVD went over their heads but they paid attention to a surprising amount of it. They learned that he wrote both instrumental pieces as well as operas, and they were fascinated with the soprano’s voice. They saw snippets of Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute being performed on stage; they also saw several modern musicians perform excerpts of his pieces on flute, violin and piano. They learned that Mozart had a sister who was also an accomplished musician, too. Later this week, we will listen to the CD again and I’ll see what other tidbits the girls retained from the film.