Coming-of-Age Stories

This series of lesson plans looks at some of cinema's best coming-of-age stories in order to address the difficulties of childhood and adolescence in a relatable fashion. In addition to gaining a greater understanding of one's own growth, these films are perfect avenues for students with disabilities to understand the essential aspects film analysis and important moments in film history.

Pather Panchali  (1955, Satyajit Ray)

Pather Panchali (1955, Satyajit Ray)

Pather Panchali (1955)

In this first film of his acclaimed Apu Trilogy, Satyajit Ray explores the early life of two young Bengali siblings named Apu and Durga, detailing their coming-of-age in a happy albeit impoverished household in India. Through neorealist filmmaking and an intimate family story, Ray captures the beautiful tale of two young children facing a poverty-stricken life with pure joy and child-like hope. This lesson plan explores Apu's family relationships while also exploring Durga and Apu's innocent experiences with poverty, death, and other difficult aspects of life. This lesson plan is suitable for middle and high school aged students (12+).

The 400 Blows (1959)

In his debut feature The 400 Blows, François Truffaut utilizes the revolutionary techniques of the French New Wave to showcase the semi-autobiographical story of Antoine Doinel's tumultuous adolescence in Paris. This lesson plan details Antoine's relationship with his parents and his learning difficulties within the classroom. Furthermore, the lesson plan highlights cinema's power to help us escape our troubles and better understand our reality through relatable narratives. This lesson plan is best suited for high school aged students (14+).

The 400 Blows  (1959, François Truffaut)

The 400 Blows (1959, François Truffaut)

Zazie in the Metro  (1960, Louis Malle)

Zazie in the Metro (1960, Louis Malle)

Zazie in the Metro (1960)

In his zany children's film Zazie in the Metro, Louis Malle explores Zazie's imaginative coming-of-age in a surrealistic version of Paris in the early 1960s. This lesson plan explores how Zazie's imagination represents her childhood and alters the film's form and narrative to showcase her childish perspective. This lesson plan also focuses on her relationship with her uncle, and how the decline of her imagination expresses her coming of age throughout the film. This lesson plan is suitable for middle and high school aged students (12+).

LAdy Bird (2017)

In her semi-autobiographical directorial debut Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig details a young girl's coming-of-age in Sacramento, California during the early 2000s. This lesson plan focuses on Lady Bird's relationship with her mother as well as her relationships with her two high school boyfriends, Danny and Kyle. Furthermore, this lesson plan emphasizes how Lady Bird's independence is essential to her coming-of-age.

Lady Bird  (2017, Greta Gerwig)

Lady Bird (2017, Greta Gerwig)