Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Review: The Great Debaters

Last night, Shira and I caught The Great Debaters, a movie about a 1935 black debate team from Texas, that makes history by debating various white universities. While the movie wasn't perfect - it was predictable, the trailer gave a way a bit too much, and at times the pace didn't seem quite right - it was actually very good. It got across an important message: if you were black in 1935, you were fundamentally not safe in your own country. It was scary stuff, and the movie brought that home well.

The movie was produced by Oprah, and directed by Denzel Washington, so you can imagine it's going to be an uplifting and strictly PMA film. And it did that well too.

Put this on your list of movies to see (perhaps rent?) and make sure your kids see it too. It's too important a story to pass up.

Update: Two things. First, Shira thinks I'm being a bit too harsh on the movie. She thinks it was a really good movie and my implying that you should see it more out of educational value than entertainment value was off base. She's probably right.

And here's a thought. The teacher and sage in the movie is Melvin B. Tolson. Tolson is not only a teacher and inspiration to children, but also an activist, and according to his Wikipedia page, a writer and politician. But most surprisingly to me, his primary job description is that of poet. I don't know about you, but when I think of poets, I don't think of activists, or politicians, or inspiring kids. I think of a solitary craftsman creating hard to follow writing, which I won't get. So if this film did nothing else but to get me thinking of poets, and poetry in a different light, it was worth it.

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