The Great Debators: A Truly Inspiring Movie

The Great Debater is an entertaining educational, thought-provoking and inspiring story of self-actualization, self-reliance and triumph, of the underdogs beating all odds to win the national championship despite the obstacles they face. This movie can be categorized as Dramatic Fiction, reflecting the challenges of racism. It certainly speaks to an audience of not just adults but teenagers too. I was really drawn to this fascinating movie because the actor Denzel Washington, for whom I have developed great admiration after watching him in classic films like American Gangster, John Q and others too numerous to name. In the Great Debater he is the character Melven Tolson: the school’s English professor and social activist. This film in essence is an excellent attempt to open to viewers the crucial role played by education in the nation’s struggle to overcome barriers of prejudice, inequality and injustice. The movie which was staged on the campus of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, a black institution in the Jim Crow South of the 1935 epitomizes this struggle and the future triumph of the forces of moral justice.

My first reaction to this drama, at the initial reading of the title, was a feeling of familiarity. The movie strikes the audience at once as down to earth and relevant, and that sense of familiarity never really leaves. It has the same sort of feeling as a sport movie with a team that will either win or lose like in Remember the Titans. But even though this drama follows a familiar path, it does so with grace, intelligence, and complexity. This is a very solid example of what formulaic inspirational films ought to be. Just because we know where a story is going doesn’t mean the journey there has to be dull; The Great Debaters provides a genuinely engaging rags-to-riches tale. Its lure lies in a fixation on core stimulation. It reaches out to people and help them to create links to their ancestral soul, evoking a sense of purpose as well as awe.

I strongly believe that this was an extraordinary film because the performances, the cinematography, the unpredictable script, historical care, directorship, characters and music all lift it out of the ordinary. In my view this was the best movie of 2007.It was held together by Denezel Washingston and the four young aspiring actors who reach for the skies.

I really enjoyed this film because; the directorship role was piloted by two black inspirational icons. It is also easy to forget that this is only the second film directed by Denzel Washingston, a veteran actor who has proven that he can also make sterling contribution in the arena of directing. He brings life, conviction and purpose to whatever film he is in, be it drama, biopic, or suspense thriller. Working with Oprah Winfrey, another black female of power, he has truly expanded the range and dynamics of the range of roles assigned to African-American actors and actresses. Working with a dream team of directors, inclusive of Stanley Kramer, one of the best known independence producers in Hollywood, Washington has, in the Great Debaters, portrayed an enlightened liberal point of view that is nothing short of revolutionary.

This leads me to speak firstly about the film’s historical background which is coloured with the humiliation and persecution of blacks. This is primarily because, unlike other films which often minimize racially sensitive issues in an attempt to maximize box office sales, the Great Debaters plunges to the core of the bitter fruit of discrimination and injustice. It challenges viewers to make sense of the challenges Blacks faced in a White world. When James Farmer Sr., accompanied by his family, accidentally runs over a pig, his humiliation at the hands of the owner and his redneck buddies makes your stomach turn. This drove his son to feel incompetent and worthless.

Another heart-warming effect of this film had to do with the actors who role-played unforgettable scenes. As the plot unfolds, there is an interesting sequence of conflicts and personal interaction between the characters in the drama that lends credibility to the performance. Tolson’s considerable military discipline comes out strongly in how he drilled his team: how he instilled in them a respect for authority and loyalty to other team members in spite of individual conflicts, how he taught them to combat using words. Team members were made to understand how hard work and great devotion transcended personal gain and contributed to the greater good of a race as well as of a great nation. As Samantha gave her arguments in a local debate about blacks’ right to be in school she became, so emotional that it brought tears to her eyes and mine too. In this regard their ultimate triumph over the odds scored a massive moral victory for all ethnic communities facing injustice and discrimination.

It was such a pleasure to see how great Washington and the three young actors held together the movie from the beginning to the end. Even though Jack Mathews in his review criticize that the movie was held together by Washington, I would want to disagree with him. The main actors were all brilliant in their own way and contributed as much to the drama as Washington. It must also be remembered that Washington is a pro in acting and these three young actors are newcomers to acting. The movie also distinctly shows the team’s independence .Washington was not allowed to go with his team to the grand finale. Henry Lowe was the one who steered the team to victory along with his other teammates. They all did a tremendous job.

Another noticeable feature of the movie that gravitated interest is the religious current that flows through almost every scene. Not only is the father of one of the debaters a Christian pastor but the religious songs and allusions to biblical incidents all speaks to the spiritual influence behind the struggle for equality and justice for all. It is therefore not surprising nor ironic that religious music is played in the movie as the backdrop to seemingly lewd and raw pub activities. The movie makes it plain that it was the deeply spiritual convictions of the African-Americans that was instrumental in helping them to surmount the overwhelming challenges that faced them in the not too distant past.

Other great aspects this film portrayed were the scenes and pictures. They were enriching. There were many unpredictable scenes .They were modernized to captivate the audience.The first notable element for contemporary audiences is how well-dressed, polite and well-spoken everyone onscreen is; the era’s profound deprivations notwithstanding, the constant supply of freshly cleaned clothes is impressive. Even more striking is how the rural students – who, when they debated – were well groomed in tuxedos and formal suites. Each scene retold the story, drawing the audience to feel each emotion whether happy or sad. As the team reached Harvard and stood tall in the hall where their fate would be determined, a glow of success encompassed their faces. It was at this point that I felt the ice break, that I could feel the massive weight of their passion. It came out in the actors’ facial expression, body language and fluency.

Even though this was definitely the best movie of 2007 it had its weaknesses. The Wiley team always debated for the side of the arguments they already agree with. This was confirmed by others critics, Reviewed done by Judge Clark Douglas on May 5th, 2008. He says: “The debates themselves have one peculiarity: The Wiley team somehow draws the “good” side of every question.” This does not ring true to form and takes away something of the spontaneity one would expect from a well-rounded debating team. But I believe that if this was done it might have been intriguing to see them defend something they disbelieve. Another area of weakness was the romance that occurred between two of the debaters. Stephen Holden, reviewing for the New York Times had this to say, “This being Hollywood, a soupçon of romance is required. The movie dawdles only as long as necessary on the pudgy, cow-eyed young James’s hopeless infatuation with Samantha, who becomes romantically involved with Henry.” I partial agree with him. But there were times when the romantic sequence came across as awkward and incomplete. In spite of these flaws though, The Great Debaters soar with words and feeling.

As an African-American it has lifted me to see the vast potential within myself and others of my race. Stephen Holden, reviewing for the New York Times had these glowing words of praise for the film: “Its steadfast humanity, its literacy, its passionate belief in education, its faith that history teaches invaluable lessons and its strong, emotionally grounded performances speaks volumes about the quality of the production”. In fact there are so many things to admire about The Great Debaters. Watching this movie has renewed my hope that eventually the forces of good will prevail and that hard work and dedication to a cause will reap abundant harvest. Movies that portray people or situations that difficult can inspire you and make you think, grow and feel appreciative of your own world. This story happened to have a happy ending based on the achievement of the characters; not because “Hollywood” determined it should be so. I find that more inspiring than a canned ending. Without a doubt, this is simply the best and most powerful film produced for a long time.

The Great Debater is an entertaining educational, thought-provoking and inspiring story of self-actualization, self-reliance and triumph, of the underdogs beating all odds to win the national championship despite the obstacles they face. This movie can be categorized as Dramatic Fiction, reflecting the challenges of racism. It certainly speaks to an audience of not just adults but teenagers too. I was really drawn to this fascinating movie because the actor Denzel Washington, for whom I have developed great admiration after watching him in classic films like American Gangster, John Q and others too numerous to name. In the Great Debater he is the character Melven Tolson: the school’s English professor and social activist. This film in essence is an excellent attempt to open to viewers the crucial role played by education in the nation’s struggle to overcome barriers of prejudice, inequality and injustice. The movie which was staged on the campus of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, a black institution in the Jim Crow South of the 1935 epitomizes this struggle and the future triumph of the forces of moral justice.

My first reaction to this drama, at the initial reading of the title, was a feeling of familiarity. The movie strikes the audience at once as down to earth and relevant, and that sense of familiarity never really leaves. It has the same sort of feeling as a sport movie with a team that will either win or lose like in Remember the Titans. But even though this drama follows a familiar path, it does so with grace, intelligence, and complexity. This is a very solid example of what formulaic inspirational films ought to be. Just because we know where a story is going doesn’t mean the journey there has to be dull; The Great Debaters provides a genuinely engaging rags-to-riches tale. Its lure lies in a fixation on core stimulation. It reaches out to people and help them to create links to their ancestral soul, evoking a sense of purpose as well as awe.

I strongly believe that this was an extraordinary film because the performances, the cinematography, the unpredictable script, historical care, directorship, characters and music all lift it out of the ordinary. In my view this was the best movie of 2007.It was held together by Denezel Washingston and the four young aspiring actors who reach for the skies.

I really enjoyed this film because; the directorship role was piloted by two black inspirational icons. It is also easy to forget that this is only the second film directed by Denzel Washingston, a veteran actor who has proven that he can also make sterling contribution in the arena of directing. He brings life, conviction and purpose to whatever film he is in, be it drama, biopic, or suspense thriller. Working with Oprah Winfrey, another black female of power, he has truly expanded the range and dynamics of the range of roles assigned to African-American actors and actresses. Working with a dream team of directors, inclusive of Stanley Kramer, one of the best known independence producers in Hollywood, Washington has, in the Great Debaters, portrayed an enlightened liberal point of view that is nothing short of revolutionary.

This leads me to speak firstly about the film’s historical background which is coloured with the humiliation and persecution of blacks. This is primarily because, unlike other films which often minimize racially sensitive issues in an attempt to maximize box office sales, the Great Debaters plunges to the core of the bitter fruit of discrimination and injustice. It challenges viewers to make sense of the challenges Blacks faced in a White world. When James Farmer Sr., accompanied by his family, accidentally runs over a pig, his humiliation at the hands of the owner and his redneck buddies makes your stomach turn. This drove his son to feel incompetent and worthless.

Another heart-warming effect of this film had to do with the actors who role-played unforgettable scenes. As the plot unfolds, there is an interesting sequence of conflicts and personal interaction between the characters in the drama that lends credibility to the performance. Tolson’s considerable military discipline comes out strongly in how he drilled his team: how he instilled in them a respect for authority and loyalty to other team members in spite of individual conflicts, how he taught them to combat using words. Team members were made to understand how hard work and great devotion transcended personal gain and contributed to the greater good of a race as well as of a great nation. As Samantha gave her arguments in a local debate about blacks’ right to be in school she became, so emotional that it brought tears to her eyes and mine too. In this regard their ultimate triumph over the odds scored a massive moral victory for all ethnic communities facing injustice and discrimination.

It was such a pleasure to see how great Washington and the three young actors held together the movie from the beginning to the end. Even though Jack Mathews in his review criticize that the movie was held together by Washington, I would want to disagree with him. The main actors were all brilliant in their own way and contributed as much to the drama as Washington. It must also be remembered that Washington is a pro in acting and these three young actors are newcomers to acting. The movie also distinctly shows the team’s independence .Washington was not allowed to go with his team to the grand finale. Henry Lowe was the one who steered the team to victory along with his other teammates. They all did a tremendous job.

Another noticeable feature of the movie that gravitated interest is the religious current that flows through almost every scene. Not only is the father of one of the debaters a Christian pastor but the religious songs and allusions to biblical incidents all speaks to the spiritual influence behind the struggle for equality and justice for all. It is therefore not surprising nor ironic that religious music is played in the movie as the backdrop to seemingly lewd and raw pub activities. The movie makes it plain that it was the deeply spiritual convictions of the African-Americans that was instrumental in helping them to surmount the overwhelming challenges that faced them in the not too distant past.

Other great aspects this film portrayed were the scenes and pictures. They were enriching. There were many unpredictable scenes .They were modernized to captivate the audience.The first notable element for contemporary audiences is how well-dressed, polite and well-spoken everyone onscreen is; the era’s profound deprivations notwithstanding, the constant supply of freshly cleaned clothes is impressive. Even more striking is how the rural students – who, when they debated – were well groomed in tuxedos and formal suites. Each scene retold the story, drawing the audience to feel each emotion whether happy or sad. As the team reached Harvard and stood tall in the hall where their fate would be determined, a glow of success encompassed their faces. It was at this point that I felt the ice break, that I could feel the massive weight of their passion. It came out in the actors’ facial expression, body language and fluency.

Even though this was definitely the best movie of 2007 it had its weaknesses. The Wiley team always debated for the side of the arguments they already agree with. This was confirmed by others critics, Reviewed done by Judge Clark Douglas on May 5th, 2008. He says: “The debates themselves have one peculiarity: The Wiley team somehow draws the “good” side of every question.” This does not ring true to form and takes away something of the spontaneity one would expect from a well-rounded debating team. But I believe that if this was done it might have been intriguing to see them defend something they disbelieve. Another area of weakness was the romance that occurred between two of the debaters. Stephen Holden, reviewing for the New York Times had this to say, “This being Hollywood, a soupçon of romance is required. The movie dawdles only as long as necessary on the pudgy, cow-eyed young James’s hopeless infatuation with Samantha, who becomes romantically involved with Henry.” I partial agree with him. But there were times when the romantic sequence came across as awkward and incomplete. In spite of these flaws though, The Great Debaters soar with words and feeling.

As an African-American it has lifted me to see the vast potential within myself and others of my race. Stephen Holden, reviewing for the New York Times had these glowing words of praise for the film: “Its steadfast humanity, its literacy, its passionate belief in education, its faith that history teaches invaluable lessons and its strong, emotionally grounded performances speaks volumes about the quality of the production”. In fact there are so many things to admire about The Great Debaters. Watching this movie has renewed my hope that eventually the forces of good will prevail and that hard work and dedication to a cause will reap abundant harvest. Movies that portray people or situations that difficult can inspire you and make you think, grow and feel appreciative of your own world. This story happened to have a happy ending based on the achievement of the characters; not because “Hollywood” determined it should be so. I find that more inspiring than a canned ending. Without a doubt, this is simply the best and most powerful film produced for a long time.

My first reaction to this drama, at the initial reading of the title, was a feeling of familiarity. The movie strikes the audience at once as down to earth and relevant, and that sense of familiarity never really leaves. It has the same sort of feeling as a sport movie with a team that will either win or lose like in Remember the Titans. But even though this drama follows a familiar path, it does so with grace, intelligence, and complexity. This is a very solid example of what formulaic inspirational films ought to be. Just because we know where a story is going doesn’t mean the journey there has to be dull; The Great Debaters provides a genuinely engaging rags-to-riches tale. Its lure lies in a fixation on core stimulation. It reaches out to people and help them to create links to their ancestral soul, evoking a sense of purpose as well as awe.

I strongly believe that this was an extraordinary film because the performances, the cinematography, the unpredictable script, historical care, directorship, characters and music all lift it out of the ordinary. In my view this was the best movie of 2007.It was held together by Denezel Washingston and the four young aspiring actors who reach for the skies.

I really enjoyed this film because; the directorship role was piloted by two black inspirational icons. It is also easy to forget that this is only the second film directed by Denzel Washingston, a veteran actor who has proven that he can also make sterling contribution in the arena of directing. He brings life, conviction and purpose to whatever film he is in, be it drama, biopic, or suspense thriller. Working with Oprah Winfrey, another black female of power, he has truly expanded the range and dynamics of the range of roles assigned to African-American actors and actresses. Working with a dream team of directors, inclusive of Stanley Kramer, one of the best known independence producers in Hollywood, Washington has, in the Great Debaters, portrayed an enlightened liberal point of view that is nothing short of revolutionary.

This leads me to speak firstly about the film’s historical background which is coloured with the humiliation and persecution of blacks. This is primarily because, unlike other films which often minimize racially sensitive issues in an attempt to maximize box office sales, the Great Debaters plunges to the core of the bitter fruit of discrimination and injustice. It challenges viewers to make sense of the challenges Blacks faced in a White world. When James Farmer Sr., accompanied by his family, accidentally runs over a pig, his humiliation at the hands of the owner and his redneck buddies makes your stomach turn. This drove his son to feel incompetent and worthless.

Another heart-warming effect of this film had to do with the actors who role-played unforgettable scenes. As the plot unfolds, there is an interesting sequence of conflicts and personal interaction between the characters in the drama that lends credibility to the performance. Tolson’s considerable military discipline comes out strongly in how he drilled his team: how he instilled in them a respect for authority and loyalty to other team members in spite of individual conflicts, how he taught them to combat using words. Team members were made to understand how hard work and great devotion transcended personal gain and contributed to the greater good of a race as well as of a great nation. As Samantha gave her arguments in a local debate about blacks’ right to be in school she became, so emotional that it brought tears to her eyes and mine too. In this regard their ultimate triumph over the odds scored a massive moral victory for all ethnic communities facing injustice and discrimination.

It was such a pleasure to see how great Washington and the three young actors held together the movie from the beginning to the end. Even though Jack Mathews in his review criticize that the movie was held together by Washington, I would want to disagree with him. The main actors were all brilliant in their own way and contributed as much to the drama as Washington. It must also be remembered that Washington is a pro in acting and these three young actors are newcomers to acting. The movie also distinctly shows the team’s independence .Washington was not allowed to go with his team to the grand finale. Henry Lowe was the one who steered the team to victory along with his other teammates. They all did a tremendous job.

Another noticeable feature of the movie that gravitated interest is the religious current that flows through almost every scene. Not only is the father of one of the debaters a Christian pastor but the religious songs and allusions to biblical incidents all speaks to the spiritual influence behind the struggle for equality and justice for all. It is therefore not surprising nor ironic that religious music is played in the movie as the backdrop to seemingly lewd and raw pub activities. The movie makes it plain that it was the deeply spiritual convictions of the African-Americans that was instrumental in helping them to surmount the overwhelming challenges that faced them in the not too distant past.

Other great aspects this film portrayed were the scenes and pictures. They were enriching. There were many unpredictable scenes .They were modernized to captivate the audience.The first notable element for contemporary audiences is how well-dressed, polite and well-spoken everyone onscreen is; the era’s profound deprivations notwithstanding, the constant supply of freshly cleaned clothes is impressive. Even more striking is how the rural students – who, when they debated – were well groomed in tuxedos and formal suites. Each scene retold the story, drawing the audience to feel each emotion whether happy or sad. As the team reached Harvard and stood tall in the hall where their fate would be determined, a glow of success encompassed their faces. It was at this point that I felt the ice break, that I could feel the massive weight of their passion. It came out in the actors’ facial expression, body language and fluency.

Even though this was definitely the best movie of 2007 it had its weaknesses. The Wiley team always debated for the side of the arguments they already agree with. This was confirmed by others critics, Reviewed done by Judge Clark Douglas on May 5th, 2008. He says: “The debates themselves have one peculiarity: The Wiley team somehow draws the “good” side of every question.” This does not ring true to form and takes away something of the spontaneity one would expect from a well-rounded debating team. But I believe that if this was done it might have been intriguing to see them defend something they disbelieve. Another area of weakness was the romance that occurred between two of the debaters. Stephen Holden, reviewing for the New York Times had this to say, “This being Hollywood, a soupçon of romance is required. The movie dawdles only as long as necessary on the pudgy, cow-eyed young James’s hopeless infatuation with Samantha, who becomes romantically involved with Henry.” I partial agree with him. But there were times when the romantic sequence came across as awkward and incomplete. In spite of these flaws though, The Great Debaters soar with words and feeling.

As an African-American it has lifted me to see the vast potential within myself and others of my race. Stephen Holden, reviewing for the New York Times had these glowing words of praise for the film: “Its steadfast humanity, its literacy, its passionate belief in education, its faith that history teaches invaluable lessons and its strong, emotionally grounded performances speaks volumes about the quality of the production”. In fact there are so many things to admire about The Great Debaters. Watching this movie has renewed my hope that eventually the forces of good will prevail and that hard work and dedication to a cause will reap abundant harvest. Movies that portray people or situations that difficult can inspire you and make you think, grow and feel appreciative of your own world. This story happened to have a happy ending based on the achievement of the characters; not because “Hollywood” determined it should be so. I find that more inspiring than a canned ending. Without a doubt, this is simply the best and most powerful film produced for a long time.