THE GREAT DEBATERS


December 2007
ONE CRITIC WROTE --THE MYSTERY OF THE FINAL COMPETITION IS PRETTY MUCH A FOREGONE CONCLUSION WHEN YOU SEE THAT THE TITLE IS NOT -- THE OKAY DEBATERS
OR
THE PRETTY GOOD DEBATERS.
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I AM NORMALLY INSULTED BY "FEEL GOOD" MOVIES, BUT DIRECTOR DENZEL WASHINGTON, HAS AVOIDED MANY OF THE CLICHÉS THAT MAKE AN INSPIRATIONAL FILM APPEAR CHILDISH AND SIMPLISTIC.
THE CHARACTERS HERE ARE REAL PEOPLE, THEY ARE FLAWED AND FEARFUL.
THEY DON'T MAKE GREAT AND ILLOGICAL LEAPS - THEY WORK HARD AND THEIR GROWTH IS NOT MIRACULOUS, IT IS BUILT ON A SOLID INTELLECTUAL AND EMOTIONAL FOUNDATION.
THE PERFORMANCE OF FOREST WHITAKER IS JUST TREMENDOUS.
THERE IS A POWERFUL SCENE WHERE FOREST IS PLACED IN ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION AS TERRENCE HOWARD WAS IN CRASH.
HOWARD WAS FORCED TO WATCH HIS WIFE BEING ABUSED BY A RACIST POLICEMAN. THERE WAS NO ACTION HE COULD TAKE THAT WOULD HAVE A POSITIVE OUTCOME -- EVERYTHING WAS AGAINST HIM AND HE WOULD HAVE PLAYED INTO THE RACIST OFFICER'S HANDS, IF HE HAD TRIED TO DEFEND HIS WIFE.
IT WAS AN EMOTIONALLY BRUTAL SCENE FOR THE AUDIENCE TO WATCH.
FOREST IS IN A SITUATION, WHERE ALL THE CARDS ARE STACKED AGAINST HIM AND ANY FORCEFUL ACTION AGAINST TWO IGNORANT RACIST GOONS WOULD ONLY HAVE A NEGATIVE OUTCOME. THIS SCENE WAS ALSO VERY DIFFICULT TO WATCH AND LIKE HOWARD, WHITAKER MAKES IT TOTALLY REAL IN VERY SUBTLE WAYS - BOTH MEN STEERED CLEAR OF THE MELODRAMATIC OPPORTUNITY OF THE SITUATION AND HANDLED IT THE WAY AN INTELLIGENT MAN WOULD, WITH DIGNITY AND FRUSTRATION MIXED IN BITTER EMOTIONAL CONFLICT WITHIN THEIR CHARACTER'S PSYCHE.
IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO REALIZE THAT THE YOUNG FEMALE ON THE DEBATE TEAM WAS JURNEE SMOLLETT, THE TITLE CHARACTER IN THE MAGNIFICENT 1997 FILM, EVE'S BAYOU. SHE CAN BE PROUD TO HAVE THESE TWO FILMS ON HER RESUME.
THIS IS NOT A QUALITY BLACK FILM, THIS IS A QUALITY FILM.
IT WOULD BE A MISTAKE NOT TO SEE IT.
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MINDY WROTE THIS COMMENT - love the movie !!!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The movie is awesome. James Farmer Jr. spoke at my college graduation exercises at Jersey City State College in 1969. He was powerful. I also was part of the audience when James Farmer was one of the guests on the Phil Donahue talk show on July 9, 1986. Mr. Farmer has always been an inspiration to me. This part of his life was unknown. He has always been overlooked in the civil rights struggle. See the movie and understand the word.

Anonymous

booksnball said...

The film is a "must see" for all. Teachers of history should make the eventaul DVD a part of their curriculum. Parents of children of a mature age able to handle & understand the emotional issues of the film should find many areas of discussion they can have with their kids. This generations teenagers should be inspired that REAL education & the "spoken word" used after research and presented with emotional eloquence can have far more of a memorable impact then the average "rap" beat offered today.