Kurt Russel mini-unit

If you lived through the 80’s and 90’s then you have probably heard of Kurt Russell. He was a staple in many sci-fi and action movies. His career goes way back though – to the 1950’s!

You would think a man who played strong, macho roles would be like that in real life. But Goldie Hawn, his partner of 31 years, and family describe him as a sweet, humble family man.

I’m joining up with other bloggers at iHomeschool Network for another round of famous birthdays – March edition!

I am actually posting two birthday posts for the month – check out our philosophy study on Rene Descartes!

A little bit about Kurt Russell

  • Born March 17, 1951 in Springfield, Massachusetts
  • He had a varied career in film and tv as a child actor
  • His father is Bing Russell, a former baseball player, who played the deputy on Bonanza for 6 years
  • Kurt himself quit acting for a while to become a professional baseball player. He achieved minor-league status but had to quit due to an injury.

For younger kids and the whole family

Now, obviously young kids won’t be able to see a lot of Kurt’s movies because of violence and language. But my kids know Kurt from his Disney films.

sky high

Sky High is about an entire family of super heroes. Will’s mom and dad have left an amazing legacy as supers and as Will heads into “super hero high school” the pressure to live up to their past is heavy.

This movie is great for watching together and discussing things like:

  • Development and growing up – Will hasn’t developed any super powers yet and he wonders if his will be any good.
  • Parent expectations – Will is afraid to tell his dad that he was put in the sidekick class because he is afraid of disappointing him.
  • Working together as a team – What do the sidekicks bring to the duos? Do people sometimes work hard without getting much recognition for what they accomplish?

Another fun movie similar to Sky High is Zoom with Tim Allen.

fox and the hound

Did you know that Kurt Russell was the voice of Copper from The Fox and the Hound? This movie is available to watch on Netflix. Although it makes me cry every time, it is good for talking about how friendship can transcend things like circumstances and race (or species).

Other family films by Kurt Russell to enjoy:

computer wore tennis shoeskurt russell miracle

The most famous Elvis impersonator?

There is a kind of magical, fictional relationship between Kurt Russell and Elvis Presley.

Kurt’s first film role, at the age of eleven, included Elvis paying him a quarter to kick him in the shin. You can seem the clip from It Happened At The World’s Fair here.

Much later, Kurt got to play the part of Elvis in the 1979 television movie, a role in which he was nominated for a Grammy. Watching Kurt play Elvis could spark some great history discussions!

elvis

He also got to play an Elvis impersonator in the movie 3000 Miles to Graceland, and was the voice of Elvis (uncredited) in the movie Forrest Gump.

For teens and adults

No study about Kurt Russell would be complete without mentioning his more mature movies. Kurt Russel often paired up with John Carpenter (a prolific director and producer in the 80’s and 90’s) to make great scifi/action thrillers.

stargate

Not for little kids, but if your teens can handle some violence and language many of Russell’s most famous roles bring up some topics that could be paired with literature or philosophy.

Stargate – a mysterious gate that has been buried for centuries links to worlds among the stars. When a team of scientists and soldiers, led by Colonel O’Neill (Russell) step through they find something similar to ancient Egypt/Babylonia. Yet there is something very different, very sinister waiting. This movie spawned the Scyfy channel’s largest grossing television series – Stargate SG1 – along with 2 spin-offs.

This movie would make an excellent starting point for watching the series, available on Netflix. Or you could discuss archaeology and culture, the ideas of invasion, slavery, and intervening in another society’s affairs.

Possible science fiction literature that could be paired with Stargate:

Tombstone – This movie is gritty and violent, but it captures the story of Wyatt Earp (played by Kurt) and Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) and the events in Tombstone, Arizona – specifically the gunfight at the OK Corral in the 1880’s.

I won’t go on too long, but this incident (and this movie) are very interesting to me. So much myth and fable has been woven into the facts that it is hard to untangle them and know what really happened. Reporters in the Old West liked to take sides and elaborate to sell papers.

Watching this movie could spur a curious teen to dig into the real history of the Earp’s and their lawful ways. Tombstone was not, as imagined in most stories, a violent or dangerous place. It was wealthy and most everyone owned a firearm for self protection. There must have been some resentment when Virgil Earp was made US Marshall for Tombstone (a federal job), and soon after the other Earp brothers arrived and worked their way into the law of the town. Nothing is quite as easy as it seems in the movies.

Big Trouble in Little China – This movie was meant to be cheesy and over-the-top. There are a lot of references to Chinese mysticism and religion which make it great for a discussion on beliefs. (On Netflix)

More about Kurt Russell

Make sure to check out Kurt’s IMDB page to see his full movie and television career, as well as his entry on Wikipedia.

And just for a last fact to celebrate Kurt Russell’s birthday, did you know he auditioned to be Han Solo?

Credit for the original image of Kurt Russell: By S Pakhrin from DC, USA [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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One Response to Quiet, Sweet, Kurt Russell {Unit Study}

  1. Ticia says:

    I love Stargate, and we’ve watched the movie with my kids with some pausing to talk it through.

    Oh and I’d agree my kids mainly known him from Sky High which they have watched 2 million times.

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