J Walking

J Walking

The Great Debaters

See The Great Debaters. While acknowledging I have very simple tastes in film and am easily amused, I also submit that it is a beautiful and moving film.
I recall hearing a critic once say that the most popular flims – or the greatest films – all address issues of racial reconciliation. Everything from Star Wars to Porkies… errr, Gone with the Wind.
The Great Debaters isn’t an all-time great, but it is great. It is beautifully shot – tenderly shot. The performances are, across the board, terrific. Forest Whitaker’s performance is spectacular and his on-screen son, Denzel Whitaker (no relation to either Washington or Whitaker) equips himself very nicely.
Through it all, however, Denzel Washington’s directorial hand is evident. This is only the second film he’s directed – 2002’s Antoine Fisher was the first. But what is clear from both films is that he infuses his flims with the same understated passion Washington he brings to his characters.
Enough pseudo review. Go see the film.

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posted December 31, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Saw the film. Great job, but and really nails the Southern race atmosphere that even I remember as a child. It was horrific. But, it isn’t very close to a true story. Henrietta Belle – don’t think she debated on that team, looks like it was either Oxford or USC and can’t find a record of such a radio program. The affair between the two young debaters – well – it was a Lifetime channel kind of moment rather than anything based on truth. Great liberty was taken with a very important story in this film.
The young man who played James Farmer, Jr. stole the show as far as I was concerned. Forrest Whittaker and Denzel Washington were the same amazing actors they always are…..
I was raised in that part of the world and the sort of racism exhibited in the 30’s was just about the same in the early 60’s. When we lived in Louisiana in the early 60’s, I remember hearing about a lynching in our little town. I was afraid to go outside for many months because of what I had heard. My parents, – southern raised and racist attitudes intact – were a generation that had to look hard at itself and change. The difference between the attitudes of my parents and my grandparents – one generation – is immense. I think we forget what a short period of time it has been since the Civil Rights movement. We forget the immense effect Gandhi was having on the world and how his non violent means of changing things really saved civilization in many respects. Without that model – what would have happened in this country? I often wonder. We absolutely forget about why a classical education was so very important and why we have little context to understand it today.
At any rate – Oprah’s company did a good job of presenting something that happened in a very fictional way. Wish I knew more about the real events.
This is a movie I will see again and probably use in teaching. Read a couple of poems of Melvin Tolsen – what a mind and heart. Perhaps the most notable people were James L. Farmer Sr. and Jr. As I recall the younger one refused ordination in the Methodist church because of its racial attitudes and inspired a self examination in that denomination that changed its history. Don’t know anything about Henry Lowe – wish I knew what really happened to him.

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posted January 1, 2008 at 10:47 pm

We don’t forget the “short amount of time” it has been since the civil rights movement, because we are inundated by movies to keep reminding us how horrible white people have been to blacks. No, make that: European-Americans have been to African-Americans. I have no desire to see Bico goes to Harvard with a team. It’s tough enough for me to think about raising my white children in this environment of “hate everything white, white guys are guilty of every social ill” society. I also have no desire to feel that I’ve done something wrong simply because of my melanin content. I’ll bet Denzel Washington is not as concerned about the countdown to tax preparation as I am.

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Larry Parker

posted January 3, 2008 at 12:29 am

Last I checked, racism is un-Christian.

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