The Great Debaters tells the (fictionalized) story of a black college debate team in 1935. What I like about the movie is that it takes education and language seriously. This was a serious college that attracted top-notch faculty and dedicated students. Be sure to watch the documentary, which includes interviews with people associated with the school in that era. I find myself contemplating a local debate club; the film inspires students and adults alike to reaffirm their commitment to education.
By its subject matter, the film necessarily deals with the politics of Jim Crow, segregation, and related issues. What I found unfortunate is that the film conflates left-wing themes with its universal themes of liberty. But it was an era of socialist ideas, and some of the people on which the film is based held such ideas.
Also unfortunate is the film’s gratuitous and implausible love triangle. Not every movie needs a sex scene, and this one seemed quite out of place.
Maybe it’s just because I’m getting a little older, but it seems like practically every movie coming out these days is terrible. The three most popular genres seem to be ridiculous horror, mindless action, and stupid comedy. So this film about discussion and the intellect is quite welcome.