Many of us will present “The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry’s tale of gift giving and self-sacrifice in December, and friend of the blog Kate McCook just shared a link to a 15-minute film that beautifully modernizes the classic short story. “I came across this lovely short film set during the Greek economic crisis,” she emailed this week. “I’m thinking of showing it to my class for a little treat and exposure to world culture.” Thanks, Kate, for sharing the good stuff – this one’s definitely going into my rotation, too.

You can view Ismene Daskarolis’ “The Gift of the Magi” (yes, it is in Greek and subtitled) on Vimeo here:

Another copy of the same film is hosted here:

Warning: A frustrated Della mutters the word “shit” early in the film. Her language fits her situation, but I know some schools are more conservative than others. Far worse words are regularly hollered across the Quad and student parking lot (“Hey!” I always scold. “You kiss your momma with that mouth?”), so one little s-bomb won’t stop me from showing the film. You could also cover the bottom third of the projector lens with an index card for the brief moment the subtitle appears.

If you’ve never taught O. Henry’s story, you should. It not only has a great theme, but also allows for discussion of irony, allusion, foreshadowing, and symbolism. I have a two-day lesson available here that includes questions to help guide students through the story and a creative writing task with two options – write a modern version of the story that includes different precious objects or retell the events of the original story but from the husband’s perspective. Watching Daskarolis’ film and then listening to a few student-created stories read aloud sounds like a great pre-holiday break activity to me, yes?

Okay, teacher friends, hope you’re set for a strong December. Just three weeks ‘til winter break!

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American literture, fun stuff, high school English, middle school, print and teach, reading, writing


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