The Freedom Writers – Movie Review

In the world we live in there is room for little doubt that each and every individual faces an invisible divide, symbolised by geography, race and tradition. As every human and group that existed and evolved together, they have progressed with personal ideas, rituals and culture. This gave birth to a new enemy. The enemy called distance and separation from other communities living in the same world. The Freedom Writers ideologically and practically defeats those invisible lines, and proves yet again, that there is no greater culture, tradition or race above the human fight for freedom and truth and this belonging can be reached only through the tedious but possible path of love and unity.

The movie screenplay has been adapted from the book ‘The Freedom Writers Diary’ by Erin Gruwell played by Hillary Swank, based on real-life incidents. The movie released in 2007 did particularly well at the box office and is packed with spirited performances by Hillary Swank, Patrick Dempesy and Margaret Campbell. The story of struggle and emancipation infuses such ardor in the movie that one finds it hard to misfire his attention during the movie.

Mrs. Erin Gruwell (Hillary Swank) the modish teacher, inspired by her father who had taken part in the civil rights movement, wants to become a lawyer but believes that by the time she defends a kid in court, it will be too late. She took the profession in which the real battle takes place, the classrooms. She unconsciously fights the platonic battle, which believes that freedom of mind lies in education.

She teaches a classroom that has undergone a voluntary integration system two years ago, and the quality of that particular high school has long gone down. Under that one roof, people study from different ethnic groups, with extreme racial hate for each other. Violence is abrupt and volatile in their thoughts and actions. There are the black, the Asians, the Chinese, the Latinos and each one has faced a long history of racial abuse and injustice. Their minds have been attacked and obliterated by unreasonableness, and are misguided by disappointment and futility of hope that they have experienced in life.

Most of them are part of gangs, some are on probation, most of them have lost their loved ones and friends to the racial war to establish racial and cultural supremacy. This poignantly portrays the dark nature of one of the world’s most successful democracies, America. The fight for unity in diversity has lost meaning, and the only question that remains is how can this uncontrollable permeation of abhorrence in the minds of the youth be solved.

No one takes her seriously, and dismiss her extreme enthusiasm as over-confidence and premature educational experience. The performance by Hillary Swank deserves much appreciation as she fiercely plays an idealist and crème la de crème who unfalteringly believes that the walls of enmity and abomination can be alleviated by edification itself.

Her tireless and innumerable attempts include one exercise of giving a diary to each of her students and ask them to write their thoughts in it and leave them in a box that will be accessible only to her. What all happens in her classroom is of much interest, and is enough to inspire anyone. To watch freedom writers is a journey everyone must experience and there is a lot to be learnt from true heroes in the movie. The putting of all heart and soul, and unfazed by a broken family, and unwavering mind constantly pestered by outside forces, by Mrs. Erin made possible the distant dream she had sought to achieve.

The victories of the students are no less and set an example for people like us. They start believing in themselves, and through the language of hope, they decorate their lives with dignity with roots garnished with love for each other’s struggle. They decide to write their own future. They truly deserve to be called the freedom writers and they get a book published with personal stories named as the ‘The Freedom Writers Diary’. Inspiring indeed!

Chaitanya Kaushik