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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Freedom Writers [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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on 31 July 2015
I could not watch it after paying for it - would not download
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on 5 March 2017
DVD is obviously scratched, not sure it will play.
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on 13 June 2007
Set amidst a backdrop of gang violence in L.A, novice teacher Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) sets about educating a racial mixed class of underprivileged students.

what unfolds is the usual story of poorer children being denied a decent education by those within the system who uphold the prejudices of the wider society. Of course up steps the naive, initiatly inept and well meaning Gruwell in attempt to help.

This storyline has been done before, in Dangerous Minds, Coach Carter, Glory Road to mention but a few.

From a cynical, logical and detached point of view, all the age old maudlin, emotion evoking mechanisms employed by Hollywood are resorted to once more.

On a slightly more emotional note, I found some parts quite poignant when seeing the prejudice, lack of opportunity, neglect and abuse suffered by the characters. The issues I felt were approached from a realistic stance not from a melodramatic or sensationalist one. Unfortunately, the personal struggles contained herein are an accurate portrayal of those faced by the poorest children in America.

Race is an issue in this film and again it was dealt with a fairly realistic, non-sensationalist way. Again the racial aspect of poverty, crime, violence, lack of education was dealt with pretty well.

Gruwell's character is played well by Swank who conveys an air of naivety (at first) yet also sincerity, integrity, and a strong social conscience that drives her to challenge an educational system founded on extreme racial and class prejudices.

Even though this is a familiar storyline, Freedom Writers I found to be genuinely touching at times. Yes it is a typical 'feel good factor' Hollywood film done in a straight forward way, but there is still a strong social/political message attached.
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on 27 September 2016
Bought this to use within work as I am a secondary school teacher. DVD has an English title but is in Italian. Not happy.
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on 4 September 2014
Basically a rip-off of Dangerous Minds. Felt very much like it, the story seemed a bit far-fetched and rushed.
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on 31 March 2008
I watched this on the weekend and was blown away. I love films and in an age of CGI animation and blockbuster special effects, it was liberating to watch a film that was so moving and inspirational.

The film tells the story of a teacher, who from her class room, managed to change peoples lives for the better and give them a tool to change the world...an education.

This film prooves that if you dare to dream and reach for the stars...you might just get there. Watch the film as it will inpspire you.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 December 2011
Freedom Writers is written and directed by Richard LaGravenese, who adapts from the Freedom Writers Diary written by Erin Gruwell and her class of students at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach California. It stars Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton, Jason Finn and Kristin Herrera.

Swank plays Erin Gruwell, an inspirational teacher type who after taking up the teaching position at Woodrow Wilson finds her classroom is a hotbed of ill education and racial disharmony. With little support coming from her superiors and within her own marriage, Gruwell took a novel approach to the task in hand to make a real life difference to her students.

There's been plenty of similar films of this ilk over the years, from way back with The Blackboard Jungle, up to Coach Carter, and stopping briefly for tea, cake and violence with The Principal and Dangerous Minds. Each follows a well worn path of a teacher rising to the challenge of making their respective students better people, even when the odds are stacked against them achieving positive results. Freedom Writers has a real life story in its favour, while the blending of Oscar winner Swank with non professional actors playing the students, really works well and gives the picture an earthy and grounded texture. True, it's full of clichés (racial stereotypes, troubled family backgrounds, dragonian principal), and you sense that even with an extended running time of two hours that we aren't quite getting the full story. Rendering the big class turnaround as seeming contrived. But this is a true uplifting film that's packed with poignant moments such as the impact of the Holocaust teachings on the class, with these passages neatly flecked with sequences involving the violence and dangers that the students face in their everyday lives.

If you can get past those formulaic clichés? Then it becomes a film that's desperately hard to dislike. Besides, committed teachers such as Erin Gruwell are to be treasured, their importance never to be understated. This, in spite of some rough edges, is a fitting tribute to one teacher and a class who managed to overcome major obstacles. 8/10
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on 9 July 2007
For those emotionally secure people, such as myself, I found it hard to keep my emotionally secured feelings emotionally secured whilst watching this film. It was edited fantastically, shot brilliantly, acted amazingly and worked together to form a perfect whole.

There is, of course, the fact that it is an all too common issue, one which we see all too much of, to little effect. There is also the fact that the same old shootings and naive do-gooders make their respective appearances, however, the primary synopsis of the teacher trying to make herself understood, to a class trying to make themselves understood goes hand-in-hand for a movie that crescendoes and breaks the emotional barriers of the most secure people.

My friend cries at nothing. My friend sobbed in the cinema.
Watch it. Alone. Absorb. Then buy the book!
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on 5 October 2007
This movie is based on the book "The Freedom Writers diary: how a teacher and 150 teens used writing to change themselves and the world around them" by the Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell. It is an inspiring and uplifting movie, a true story about a teacher in a racially divided school who gives her students a chance to learn that they is a world beyond the one they can see in front of them. Erin Gruwell comes to a southern California high school and discovers that her unruly classroom is not easily won over by her good intentions. She eventually gives them the assignment of keeping journals about their own lives, This assignment is something that anyone can do, write anything they want daily without having to worry about being judged. This assignment and her willingness to listen is what bond the class together. The movie shows that regardless of where you are now in your life, what background, race or culture you come from; that anything is possible if you are willing to work and just try.
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VINE VOICEon 11 March 2008
Oh no not another movie about some middle class white person inspiring a racially diverse bunch of teenage gang -bangers that yeah there is more to life than getting "respec" , protecting your turf and killing each other. Hasn't this been done before? Well yes it has , most recently with the truly laughable "Dangerous Minds", but leave your cynicism by .....well by whatever the best place to leave it is , because Freedom Writers is based on a true story -a truly inspiring one at that - and whatever your levels of scepticism surely anyone with a living beating heart will find something affecting about this movie.
Idealistic first-year English teacher Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank who also served as an executive producer), the daughter of a civil rights activist Steve Gruwell (Scott Glenn) attempts to make a difference by taking her first job in a volatile inner-city Los Angeles high school. Like Glenn Ford in "The Blackboard Jungle" or Sidney Poitier in "To Sir, With Love," Gruwell hasn't a clue about what she's getting into. But she cares, she's determined and she perseveres, battling intransigent scathing veterans and an unmoving bureaucracy every step of the way. Why she even takes on extra jobs to buy the students new books, organises fund-raising events all to the detriment of her marriage to under-achieving Scott (Patrick Dempsey)
Her class of black, Latino and Asian students are not exactly thrilled about reading The Odyssey. but through resolve and gawky determination and a willingness to meet her students on their own terms, Erin turns the class of misfits into a family of confident young scholars. Her primary inspirational tool involves encouraging the students to write diaries about their everyday lives, providing a catharsis for the under privileged teens. She teaches them about the Holocaust ,they meet some holocaust survivors played by real veterans and after reading the "Diary Of Anne Frank" they arrange a visit from Miep Gies(Pat Carroll), the woman who hid Anne Frank from the Nazi's .
Director/writer Richard La Gravanese keeps the premise simple , though there sub -plots involving sulky Eva (April Hernandez) and Andre(Mario).It could be argued that the film is over simplified and while Hilary Swank is a terrific actress , her performance is a little one note -all wringing hands and toothy grin .The scene where she attempts to get the kids on-side by playing Snoop Dog and dancing like her feet having been stapled to concrete lintels is toe curling.
Then there are the kids. They all put in credible performances but are clearly way beyond the ages they are meant to be portraying . While the film has a sincere evocative message and is genuinely moving at times it struck me that it leaves the viewer with a rather bittersweet message. We can cheer the accomplishment of these propitious few, but the film clearly proclaims that her project is an exception. If it takes the total commitment of an extraordinary individual to reach students, then isolated success is all we can expect from this damaged structure. Having said that her achievement is worthy of celebration and this film is a creditable part of that celebration .
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