Saturday, December 22, 2007

Freedom Writers

Hundreds, if not thousands, of cinematic minds have broached the sensitive topic of racism and community violence with varying levels of involvement, intensity and effect.
One of the better among those that comes to my mind is 'Crash'. It left me with a tinge of sadness, but a lot of optimism. And it enchanted me with its cinematic excellence with regard to its screenplay. The idea of multiple stories interwoven into each other and running parallel isn't new. But Crash did it in a smooth classic way that just doesn't ruffle you.

'Freedom Writers' (2007) touches the same topic, and after almost everyone else has done it. Just when you feel that no facet of this issue has been left untouched, Freedom Writers comes with a solution.

Its a true story based on Rene Gruwell and her class of Woodrow Wilson High School freshmen. The movie is based on the journals she motivated her students to maintain.
Its an inspiring tale of how she converted a group of disturbed violent teenagers, each of whom had been pointed a gun at, lost at least one close friend (if not 4 to 5) to community violence, and had no faith in themselves or the system around them, into inspired souls who learnt how to respect themselves and respect others.
She finally got them to compile their journals into a book. The name of the book, 'Freedom Writers', was inspired from the 'Freedom Riders' of 1961 who challenged the apparently senseless Jim Crowe laws that mandated a 'separate but equal' status for black Americans.

A little bit of support and understanding can go a long way. What struck me most was her method. She shared their lives, and she shared with them the lives of many others who had faced similar and sometimes worse situations. She took them through Schindler's List, Anne Frank's story, the Holocaust, the Freedom Riders, everything. That she effected this change through 'sharing' reminded me of Avanoo.

I honestly cant relate much to racial discrimination as I have not faced it personally. And I don't remember when was the last time a movie made me cry. This one did.

It leaves you touched, inspired, glad, motivated and happy by the end of it. It must be special.

Originally published on Crimson Feet - Avanoo

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