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Truly Moving Picture

Author: tollini from United States 15 December 2006

“[…] (A) Woodrow Wilson High School is located in Long Beach, California. The school is voluntarily integrated, and it isn’t working.

(B) The Asians, the Blacks, the Latinos, and a very few whites not only don’t get along, but also stay with their own and are part of protective and violent gangs. (C) There isn’t much teaching or learning going on at the school. It is a warehouse for young teenagers until they can drop out or are kicked out.

(D) With this background, an idealistic teacher (Hilary Swank) arrives to teach Freshmen English. […] From day one, she doesn’t fit in the classroom with these tough kids, (E) and she doesn’t fit in with the faculty, who have all but given up and resigned themselves to being the keepers of the student warehouse.

(F) But our idealistic teacher will not give up. She slowly and painfully tries to teach by first learning about ‘… the pain…’ the students feel.

(G) She encourages each of her students to keep a journal of their painful and difficult life, and then to share the journal with her. (H) She also attempts to get the four ethnic groups to come together by getting them to recognize what they have in common; specifically, their music, their movies, their broken families, and their broken community surroundings.

While struggling with the students, she has to deal at the same time with two complicated and demanding male relationships. (I) Her husband (Patrick Dempsey) is often supportive, but often jealous of her time commitments. (J) Her father (Scott Glenn) is often disappointed [with] her career choice, but often proud of her courage and tenacity.

This story feels real. It is beautifully done. The acting of Swank, Dempsey and Glenn is professional and believable. (K) More importantly, the story highlights our society’s challenges in schooling the children of poor and one-parent families.

(L) The movie doesn’t give miracle answers. But it does give hope. And in the end, sincere effort appears to count for something… maybe everything. […]”

Available at . Accessed on January 28, 2016. Suppressions for pedagogical purposes (omission of excerpts with inadequate language level or advertising) marked with […]. Occasional linguistic adjustments to fit standard language marked with [ ].

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Erin Gruwell What about this? We were discussing the Holocaust.

Margaret Campbell No, they won’t be able to read that.

Erin Gruwell We can try, the books are just sitting here.

Margaret Campbell Look at their reading scores. And if I give your kids these books, I’ll never see them again. If I do, they will be damaged.

Erin Gruwell What about this? Romeo and Juliet. That’s a great gang story.

Margaret Campbell No, not the books. This is what we give them. It is Romeo and Juliet, but it’s a condensed version. But even these, look how they treat them. See how torn up they are? They draw on them.

Erin Gruwell Ms. Campbell? They know they get these because no one thinks they’re smart enough for real books.

Margaret Campbell Well, I don’t have the budget to buy new books every semester when these kids don’t return them. […] You can’t make someone want an education. The best you can do is try to get them to obey, to learn discipline. That would be a tremendous accomplishment for them.




Steve Gruwell With your brains, you could run a major corporation. Instead, I worry all night because you’re a teacher in Attica. […] You’re gonna waste your talents on people who don’t give a damn about education. It breaks my heart. I tell you the truth.

Erin Gruwell Well… I’m sorry. I can’t help that.

Steve Gruwell You think this is good enough for her?

Scott Casey Yeah, I do. Look, Steve… If Erin thinks she can teach these kids, she can. You telling her she can’t is just gonna make her mad.
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Eva Benitez If it was up to me, I wouldn’t even be in school. My probation officer threatened me, telling me it was either school or boot camp. [...] My PO doesn’t understand that schools are like the city, and the city is just like a prison, all of them divided into separate sections, depending on tribes. There’s Little Cambodia, the ghetto, Wonder Bread Land and us, South of the Border, or Little Tijuana. [...] It looks like this, one tribe drifting quietly to another’s territory, without respect, as if to claim what isn’t theirs.

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