Freedom Writers (Widescreen Edition)
Freedom Writers (Widescreen Edition)
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A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.
|Actors:||Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, April L. Hernandez|
|Format:||NTSC, Widescreen, Color|
|Number of Discs:||1|
|Run Time:||123 minutes|
|DVD Release Date:||April 17, 2007|
|Average Customer Rating:|| based on 400 reviews|
|Average Customer Review: ( 400 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 73 found the following review helpful:
Another great "education" film to add to my Listmania films on this genre Jul 30, 2007
By Steven Hedge
**A few spoilers in this review**
Amazon's has it all right in their comments on this underrated, wonderfully acted, and fair treatment of our current education system that all too often gives up on what it considers the "undesirables" present in every school, the teachers who think that they know it all (both villain and heroine in this film), and the kids who believe that they have no reason to even try to prove others wrong.
The dialogue is blisteringly realistic, sensitive, insightful, and painfully honest most of the time. In many ways there are no real villains in this film although there are two specific teachers who attempt to give Swank's character difficulty either because she is attempting to succeed where others have failed, or because she thinks she is better than others or has the key to her students' success if others would just get out of her way. It's easy to see the veteran teachers' resentment for Swank as Gruwell. She is brash, naive, overconfident, obsessive, and appears to want to outshine her colleagues although that really isn't her intent, but one can see how a veteran teacher would see her as a threat to their status which they feel, and rightly so to some degree, have earned. Simply because these older veteran teachers may not be as "on fire" as Gruwell, who is new to the profession, doesn't mean they aren't still dedicated. In their defense, Gruwell really does just dismiss their experience, expertise, and dedication to the education profession because they have become a bit more jaded by their life experiences in this profession. She does come off rather self-righteous at the wrong times such as when she's actually seeking help. Talk about ironic.
As a 17 year veteran teacher myself I understand those veteran teachers in the film, but I also recall being Gruwell's age with all its enthusiasm, shakey confidence, and out to prove something mentality. I have greatly learned to appreciate and love the new teachers that come into my school because they have the opportunity to succeed where I may have failed and the students will benefit from that, but it does have its pains too. I know that that glorious time is somewhat behind me now and passing the torch is hard. It's also hard to see one's own light diminishing while another is being lit. I think younger teachers need to be sensitive to that and Swank's character, Gruwell, is rather harsh and judgmental to those that don't "get" her style. In fact, she is so harsh that her single-minded focus doesn't let her feel others' emotional pain that her success is causing. She appears to only be focused on her mission and her kids and while that can be praiseworthy, it can be narrow-minded and heartless too. Sadly, her obsessive nature causes her marriage to collapse. She NEVER sees that coming and that is all the more sad as it shows how clueless she is regarding her own actions while so easily condeming others. In the end, neither Gruwell or her husband really comes off as the "bad guy" at the end of that relationship although people are bound to take sides. I think he's pretty shallow and weak for not standing up for himself or his marriage more until it hits a point of no return. There is plenty of fault to go around.
This is compelling film making and my wife and I talked for hours after viewing this film as she recalls my early days in education and how I am now after years of battling and bowing to belligerent parents who never believe their kid could do any wrong, abusive and manipulative students who know the system is mostly on their side now, condescending administrators who believe they have the answers when they are no longer even in the classroom environment, and demonizing politicians who always see us as the reason for all the ills in society. To add insult to injury after many years of dedication, new young teachers often come in displaying little respect to veterans as they see others not giving us respect. It's sad that they so often don't see their futures in us.
I praise new young teachers like Gruwell and world experienced but new teachers like Jamie Escalante (Stand and Deliver) and all such teachers who battle the odds to make a difference in the lives of their students. If anyone gets anything out of this film, I would hope it's a sense that all deserve respect. Films in this genre all too typically demonize the veteran teachers as has-beens who have just given up, praise the young upstart regardless of their flawed attitude at times, and put students on the same playing field as adults which they are not. This film breaks this genre's stereotypes quite a bit. I felt sincerely sorry for the disenchanted and disrespected veterans even though they were combative and jealous. I felt great respect and empathy for the young new teacher, Gruwell, for trying to make a positive change, but upset with her condescending and self-absorbed, callous attitude at times toward her colleagues and husband. I, lastly, felt great compassion for the students portrayed in this film who all too often society feels are "throwaways."
This is the kind of film that lingers in your mind long after the viewing of it is over. This film is worth renting if not owning. Enjoy.
31 of 36 found the following review helpful:
A new favourite - a very powerful, POWERFUL movie :-) Feb 06, 2008
By Little Miss Cutey
I don't know about anyone else, but I went through a lot of tissues in this movie. Not because it's sad (although there are a few sad parts here and there), but because it's so moving and heart warming. It took me too long to get around to watching this and I'm sorry for that, but now that I've seen it, it's definately a new favourite of mine and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It's based on fact and what a teacher, Erin Gruwell, does to turn around a class of kids who seem helpless. It's far better than Higher Learning or Dangerous Minds. It's got a fantastic cast in it and they all did such a great job. Hillary's character starts out a little niave because she thinks from the start that it's going to be a piece of cake to teach this class English. However, soon after they arrive at the first lesson, she sees it's going to be an uphill battle. A little on in the movie, after she sees a drawing someone drew of a black student, she begins to get them thinking about how these actions can take their toll, by refering to the way Jews were drawn in newspaper cartoons back in the beginning of the Nazi uprise. These kids have never heard of the Holocaust and she overtime, helps them see what Jews faced when the Nazi's took over Germany and other parts of Europe (she takes them to the Simon Weisenthal Museum of Tolorance) and she plays games with them where they divide into two sides of the room and come to the center of the room for each thing they have in common (such as whether they've lost someone they love in gang violence, or whether they have the same music taste). Soon they see that it doesn't matter if they are Black, White, Hispanic or Cambodian - they are all so similar in so many ways and they shouldn't let race divide them.
You HAVE to see this brilliant movie. It's so uplifting and moving, that you'll no doubt love it as much as I did. It's such a powerful movie and ALL school kids across the world should be made to watch this in classes at school. I love it.
13 of 14 found the following review helpful:
Splendid uplifting movie Jan 20, 2008
By Isabel Taylor
We loved this movie, it is a very inspiring story of a young teacher with difficult teenagers, it is very well acted and directed, and by the time it ends we are feeling moved, uplifted and with faith in the future of our children!
10 of 11 found the following review helpful:
AMAZING TOUCHING MOVIE Jan 21, 2007
WHEN I FIRST SAW THE PREVIEWS I KNEW RIGHT FROM THE START IT WAS GOING TO BE GOOD.THEN WHEN I SAW IT I WAS SHOCKED BOUT THE PROBLEMS THESE KIDS WERE
HAVING.THIS MOVIE TOUCHED ME IN A WAY AND IT ALMOST MADE ME CRY.I CANT EVEN LOOK AT MY OWN SCHOOL AND LIFE THE SAME WAY.IM HISPANIC AND TO SEE
HOW THEY WERE BEING TREATED IN THIS MOVIE.THAT YOU COULD BE SHOT ALMOST ANYWHERE IN DAYLIGHT.IT GOT ME KINDA SCARED AND SHOWED ME HOW LIFE REALLY
IS IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD.THIS MOVIE SHOWED ME HOW LIFE CAN BE REALLY CRUEL
IN SOME WAYS BUT IT CAN BE GOOD TOO.NOW I SEE WHAT MY PARENTS AND TEACHERS ARE TRYING TO TELL US.THAT WE CAN BE WUT EVER WE WANNA BE
AND TO MAKE SOMETHING OF OUR LIVES.JUST LIKE HILARY SWANK IS DOING THE SAME IN THE MOVIE TRYING TO GET IT OUT TO HER STUDENTS.
I CANT WAIT FOR THE MOVIE TO COME OUT ON DVD TO PURCHASE IT.
8 of 9 found the following review helpful:
One of the best films I've seen in 2007 May 13, 2007
By Kyle Tolle
Hillary Swank plays the part of Erin Gruwell, a new teacher starting out in Long Beach, California teaching a freshman class of students that have suffered many difficulties in life so far. Each of them in the class has already been subjected to violence in school and in their communities and they also confront peer segregation in the form of cliques or `tribes' as described by one student.
Erin Gruwell, new to teaching and on unfamiliar ground, starts out by absorbing the abuse given by her students and eventually finds ways to break down the racial tension and communicate with them. She is able to accomplish this even with the school principal and department head of English are not supporting her methods or acknowledging her successes. On her own, Erin Gruwell works two extra part-time jobs to help pay for school books and other materials that she cannot get from her own administration. So much of her time is spent on bettering her students that even her marriage begins to deteriorate.
Beginning a new class project where everyone is to keep a journal and make daily entries, Erin Gruwell eventually reads the journals, with the approval of her students, and begins to connect with them even more in that she now understands the pain in their lives and hardships they have faced. This also drives her to become even more influential in their education and give them hope and inspiration in becoming what they never thought they could. The students in her class, some being the first in their families to ever graduate high school and then go to college, do just that. They eventually call themselves Freedom Writers and they also put their journal entries together to create the `Freedom Writers Diary' which was published in 1999.
I can remember 2 distinct movies before this that employed similar kinds of themes and they were `To Sir With Love' and `Dangerous Minds'. The formula certainly worked back then and it works this time too, maybe even more so. There is no mistaking that this is a very well made film and it is well acted. The story is inspirational, uplifting and definitely worth watching.
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