Film Club: ‘The Paradise Next Door’

Film Club: ‘The Paradise Next Door’

Note to Teachers: As with all our films, please preview to make sure the film is appropriate for your students.

The Paradise Next Door” is an eight-minute film that profiles The Villages, a huge retirement community near Orlando, Fla. The film touches on themes of aging, community, happiness and the ever-elusive dreams of a perfect life.

What would your paradise look like — now and when you get older?


1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.

2. After watching, think about these questions:

  • What questions do you still have?

  • What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: What would your paradise look like — now and when you get older?

4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.

6. To learn more, read “The Paradise Next Door.” Lance Oppenheim writes:

The Villages is a world of its own. About an hour north of Orlando, Fla., the huge retirement community — which is so large that it contains its own shopping, dining and health care facilities — has lured more than 130,000 seniors with meticulously groomed grounds and a simulacrum of American yesteryear. Residents are immersed in a self-contained society defined by free time, recreation and the blissful opportunity to ignore the outside world.

But as this senior utopia continues to expand, transforming adjoining pastures and wetlands into golf courses and tract housing, it also threatens the way of life of its neighbors, who may feel they have little choice but to sell their property and move. And Villages residents themselves are confronted with the very forces they have tried to ignore. Cracks, both literal and metaphysical, have upset the foundation of the community.

Want More Film Club?

See all the films in this series.

Read our list of practical teaching ideas, along with responses from students and teachers, for how you can use these documentaries in the classroom.