Teaching Students About Peter Fonda
Peter Fonda, a prominent figure in American film history, impacted countless individuals through his acting and activism. As an educator, it is essential to teach students about Peter Fonda and his influence on cinema and society. This article will guide you through the various ways of incorporating lessons about Peter Fonda into your classroom.
1. Understanding the man – A brief biography of Peter Fonda
Begin your lessons by providing students with an overview of Peter Fonda’s life. Discuss his upbringing as the son of actor Henry Fonda and the younger brother of Jane Fonda, touching on how this affected his entrance into the film industry. Talk about his early acting roles in movies such as “The Wild Angels” before delving into his breakout role in “Easy Rider.”
2. “Easy Rider” – An introduction to a revolutionary film
Fonda’s most notable work, co-written, produced, and starring him alongside Dennis Hopper, was the 1969 film “Easy Rider.” When teaching students about this film, discuss its significance during its time of release and how it represented the counterculture movement in the United States. Explain how this independent film explored themes such as freedom, individualism, and the American Dream while challenging traditional Hollywood norms.
3. The impact of “Easy Rider” on American cinema
Following a discussion on the plot and themes of “Easy Rider,” focus on its influence on American cinema. Elaborate on how it led to the emergence of New Hollywood – a period when young filmmakers began experimenting with new storytelling techniques and subject matter. Discuss how these changes paved the way for other filmmaking visionaries like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas.
4. Subsequent films – The later career of Peter Fonda
Introduce students to other significant film roles in Fonda’s career, such as “The Hired Hand” (1971), “Race with the Devil” (1975), and “Ulee’s Gold” (1997), for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Highlight the various themes and genres of his filmography, allowing students to explore his versatility as an actor.
5. Activism and influence – Fonda’s mark on society
Finally, discuss Peter Fonda’s activism and how it reflected his personal beliefs. Teach your students about his involvement in environmental causes, his participation in the anti-war movement, and his advocacy for Native American rights. Encourage them to analyze how these stances impacted both his career and society at large.