The Return of Martin Guerre (a film)

"But we live only by the spirit / All else dies"

Lesson Overview 

The First Movie Questions (see my page on Movie Questions).  I have shown films in my class since I was a student teacher.  There is a myth or perhaps, alternatively a bad practice, of believing that showing movies in class means a day off for both the teacher and the student.  Instead, I believe that movies (and music and other media) give teachers a way to present and reinforce material in a completely different way.  For a week, students have been engaged in the idea of "What is Truth?" - they've seen that in five different texts - and now they will watch a movie, "The Return of Martin Guerre" that will allow them to synthesize what they've been reading, thinking and talking about through a visual medium.  It helps them cement and further their ideas and understanding.  See my page on Movie Questions for more about the methods that I use in this lesson.

The Movie - The Return of Martin Guerre

Here is the description taken from JustWatch (a site that tells you where a movie is streaming): "Village of Artigat, southern France, summer 1542, during the reign of Francis I. Martin Guerre and Bertrande de Rols marry. A few years later, accused of having committed a robbery, Martin suddenly disappears. When, almost a decade later, a man arrives in Artigat claiming to be Martin, the Guerre family recognizes him as such; but doubts soon arise about his true identity."  The trailer can be found here.


Most Recent Handouts & Quizzes

Movie Questions:  Docx  PDF  PLEASE NOTE (FOR THIS HANDOUT) - the immediate questions are NOT boldfaced, but the at-home thoughtful questions are italicized.  From the handout: The story you about to watch is based on a true incident which occurred during the Renaissance in France.  The plot is both simple and complex, so it is necessary to pay close attention to everything that is going on.  In fact, you will soon find there is a mystery that you will be able to solve only if you have been paying close attention.  If you feel that at times not much is going on, think again.

Audio Visual Content

Again - here is the link to - where you can find where The Return of Martin Guerre is streaming, and the Amazon Page where you can purchase the Blu-Ray (restored in 4k).


Remote Enhancements 

It is more than possible to watch films together with your class - usually that means having the  video you are watching on your computer and sharing the screen with students.  You can also keep the comment window open to share things with them (just don't get too distracting).  You can also see if they are paying attention or not.



The book that the film is based on can be found here.

Class Recordings (for registered members)



What's Next & Unit Homepage

The History of Love    Time to start a new unit - Nicole Krause's masterpiece: "The History of Love".  As always with novels, we begin with a day of poems.


  The Metamorphosis Group Work

Thoughts on the Lesson 

I saw this movie as a very young man (22) and it never left my head.  When I decided that my Journalism/World Literature class would be built around the idea of Truth - I knew that this film was a natural fit.  I quickly learned the importance of having questions to engage the students - though they often moan about them - they really do work and each movie question can be like a short essay - and that is a lot of critical thinking and writing practice indeed.  

Perhaps the most important question on the Movie Questions is about "Who is the true Martin Guerre"?  I have found that most students, at this age, tend to see things so literally that they will invariably say that it is of course the person that was born with that name - because this is the end of the Unit on "Truth" (though we tackle truth for the rest of the year actually), I think it is important to be able to see beyond that simplistic idea.

A few years into my teaching a career, a student came back to visit me and she told me that she had taken a potential boy friend to see the movie (The Return of Martin Guerre) - it was playing at a revival house near her college.  Her friend hated it and thought it was the  most boring thing that he had ever seen.  She told me she knew there was no future for them - at that moment.