7.6/10
11,478
104 user 98 critic
Trailer
2:20 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Director:

Jeffrey Blitz
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 17 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Murderball (2005)
Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Stars: Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan
Comedy | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A magician meets an eccentric girl and offers her to work together in his magic show. It is only until a year later that he starts to know her personally and develops a feeling towards her despite her own problems.

Director: In-ho Hwang
Stars: Ye-jin Son, Min-ki Lee, Seong-hoon Sin
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.

Director: Andrew Jarecki
Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Die-hard gamers compete to break world records on classic arcade games.

Director: Seth Gordon
Stars: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Mark Alpiger
Lucky I (2010)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A documentary about the American lottery and some of the industry's biggest winners (and losers).

Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Stars: Steve Ledoux
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Documentary | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Director: Steve James
Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.

Director: Chris Smith
Stars: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Documentary on the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents.

Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Jacques Perrin, Philippe Labro
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Looking for answers to life's big questions, a stuttering boy joins his high school debate team.

Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Stars: Reece Thompson, Anna Kendrick, Nicholas D'Agosto
Documentary | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Since 1978, Anvil has become one of heavy metal's most influential yet commercially unsuccessful acts. In 2006, after a fledging European tour Anvil sets out to record their thirteenth album and continue to follow their dreams.

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Stars: Robb Reiner, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, Tiziana Arrigoni
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Arenivar Angela Arenivar ... Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ubaldo Arenivar Ubaldo Arenivar ... Himself - Angela's Father (as Ubaldo)
Jorge Arenivar Jorge Arenivar ... Himself - Angela's Brother (as Jorge)
Scott McGarraugh Scott McGarraugh ... Himself - Ranch Owner (as Mr. McGarraugh)
Lindy McGarraugh Lindy McGarraugh ... Herself - Ranch Owner (as Mrs. McGarraugh)
Concepción Arenivar Concepción Arenivar ... Herself - Angela's Mother (as Concepción)
Mrs. Slaughter Mrs. Slaughter ... Herself - Angela's Teacher
Neelima Marupudi Neelima Marupudi ... Herself - Potter County Champion (as Neelima)
Nupur Lala Nupur Lala ... Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ms. Whitehurst Ms. Whitehurst ... Herself - Nupur's Teacher
Parag Lala Parag Lala ... Himself - Nupur's Father (as Parag)
Meena Lala Meena Lala ... Herself - Nupur's Mother (as Meena)
Kuna Lala Kuna Lala ... Himself - Nupur's Brother (as Kuna)
Ted Brigham ... Himself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ms. Blair Ms. Blair ... Herself - Ted's Teacher
Edit

Storyline

This documentary follows 8 teens and pre-teens as they work their way toward the finals of the Scripps Howard national spelling bee championship in Washington D.C. All work quite hard and practice daily, first having to win their regional championship before they can move on. Interviews include the parents and teachers who are working with them. The competitors not only work hard to get to the finals but face tremendous pressure as the original group of over 250 competitors is whittled down and the words they must spell get ever more difficult. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

EVERYONE WANTS THE LAST WORD See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official Site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

10 October 2003 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Agonisma orthografias See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,508, 4 May 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,728,431, 7 December 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Blitz/Welch See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Spellbound won the Emmy for Cultural/Artistic Programming and Jeffrey Blitz was a nominee for directing. See more »

Goofs

While interviewing Harry in his room the boom mic is deliberately shown after Harry asks "Is that thing edible?" See more »

Quotes

Ted's Mom: I think Ted's got the advantage of parents, who think he's great irregardless.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is no cast list; a cast member is considered credited if a subtitle or an item in the film prints the name (or partial name). See more »

Connections

References All in the Family (1971) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Wizard film, weird country
15 April 2005 | by paul2001sw-1See all my reviews

In one sense, the U.S. National Spelling Bee is a strange thing, a freakish competition for freaks to take part in, and designed to make them only more freakish. You don't have to understand the words to win, you merely have to spell them, and the winner would seem to have proved little else than their willingness to work hard for no social benefit, and their ability to withstand extreme pressure. Make no mistake, the kids featured in this documentary are bright and talented, but one can't help but wonder whether such ruthless competition, or the attitude that they are in some sense a "gifted" elite, is really good for society or for the individuals themselves.

But it's not the competition that makes 'Spellbound', a documentary about 1999's contest, so gripping (we follow eight of the 249 finalists, but the film is sympathetic to them all, and does not encourage us to set one against the rest). Rather, this comes from the way the 'Spellbound' reminds us what a diverse country America is: ethnically, socially, physically. These kids come from all over, and while on one hand we see a very unusual slice of American life in this film, it's nonetheless a surprisingly broad one. Some of the contrasts are obvious: a family of Indian descent say that in America, if you work hard, you will succeed; but we also meet a family of Mexican descent (who consider that they have worked hard and succeeded, but who have little compared with the Indians), and a black family in a grim district of Washington (arguably failing to thrive after several hundred years). Yet in spite of their differences, their children are all (give or take the final few words) as good as each other (at least when it comes to spelling). Today, social mobility in America is lower than in Europe; but the old American dream, it seems, lives on in the spelling bee. And although the extreme preparation of most competitors appears to place a ludicrously inflated value on the work ethic, and though some (though not all) of the parents are frighteningly pushy, there's also something quite sweet, in this age of guns and violence, in such a fierce competition fought only with words.

'Spellbound' is filmed without tricks, or any special artiness, but nonetheless offers an unexpected insight into contemporary American society. But please let us not copy them and bring the bee back here!


27 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 104 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed