Teaching Students About Peter Cushing
Introducing students to Peter Cushing is essential for a comprehensive understanding of film history and the development of horror and science fiction genres. This article aims to provide teachers with insights on how to incorporate lessons about Peter Cushing into their curriculum effectively, igniting students’ passion for cinema and inspiring further exploration of his work.
Who is Peter Cushing?
Peter Cushing (1913-1994) was a British actor whose career spanned over five decades. Although he appeared in numerous films and television shows, he is best known for his roles in Hammer Films’ horror productions of the late 1950s to the 1970s. Cushing’s most iconic parts include his portrayal of Professor Van Helsing in various Dracula adaptations, Dr. Frankenstein in multiple Frankenstein installments, and Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977).
Cushing’s Impact on Horror and Sci-Fi Films
Teaching about Peter Cushing’s influence requires examining his impact on horror and science fiction films, where he displayed an exceptional ability to bring life to various complex and compelling characters. His collaboration with Hammer Films marked the revival of classic gothic horror stories, contemporizing them for new generations.
His performances often featured nuanced characterizations that removed stereotypes, as seen in his portrayal of Doctor Frankenstein – a role that explored the character’s ethics and intelligence with considerable depth. Furthermore, his association with Star Wars solidified him as an important figure in popular culture.
Incorporating Peter Cushing into Your Curriculum
1. Filmography Overview: Provide students with a brief overview of Cushing’s extensive filmography, highlighting his most notable roles. This background information allows students to have a better understanding of the actor’s career progression and importance within film history. Top films may include “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957), “Horror of Dracula” (1958), and “Star Wars” (1977).
2. Movie Screenings and Discussions: Organize screenings of Peter Cushing’s films, followed by discussions on his contributions to the genres. Students can analyze character development, performance techniques, and the cultural impact of his iconic roles.
3. Comparison to Other Actors: Discuss how Cushing’s acting style and approach to roles compared to other actors in the horror and science fiction genres. Teachers could provide examples of other notable actors like Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, or Boris Karloff.
4. Research Project: Assign students to research various aspects of Peter Cushing’s life and career, including his early acting days, personal life, friendships with other actors, and his humanitarian work. Encourage students to craft presentations showcasing their findings.
5. Acting Workshops: Conduct a workshop analyzing specific scenes, inviting students to re-enact moments from iconic Peter Cushing films. This activity allows students to explore Cushing’s acting techniques, understand the importance of context in horror and science fiction films, and foster a deeper appreciation for his artistry.
Peter Cushing’s contribution to film history is monumental, extending far beyond his iconic roles in horror and science fiction movies. By incorporating lessons about his work into your curriculum, teachers can inspire students’ curiosity about cinema while developing a newly found respect for an influential figure in film history.