The Great Debaters (2007)

A period piece set in Texas in the 1930s at a Black college and a film by Denzel Washington.

We follow 4 (then only 3) students who form the debate team at Wiley College. Their sponsor is a fiery tempered activist who leads them to multiple victories and to the attention of white universities who agree to debates. Issues of racism, economic policies, and justice permeate not only the debate scenes but also the society they live in. Their victories seems not only based on how well they present their arguments, but in how they personalize them.

Several aspects of the film impressed me. The story was compelling as the characters suffered their flaws on screen and yet revealed their fortitude at the same time. I enjoyed the editing of the film too; though it weighed in at 126 minutes, there wasn't anything irrelevant in the film. The setting was also one that we don't see too much in film - south Texas from a Black perspective.

However, one thing bothered me throughout: The debate team always seemed to defend the obviously truthful aspect of the argument - which to me seems to be the easy one to win with.

Truth: Issues are meaningless until they become personalized.

Official Site | IMDB

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