It's 1994 in Long Beach, California. Idealistic Erin Gruwell is just starting her first teaching job, that as freshman and sophomore English teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, which, two years earlier, implemented a voluntary integration program. For many of the existing teachers, the integration has ruined the school, whose previously stellar academic standing has been replaced with many students who will be lucky to graduate or even be literate. Despite choosing the school on purpose because of its integration program, Erin is unprepared for the nature of her classroom, whose students live by generations of strict moral codes of protecting their own at all cost. Many are in gangs and almost all know somebody that has been killed by gang violence. The Latinos hate the Cambodians who hate the blacks and so on. The only person the students hate more is Ms. Gruwell. It isn't until Erin holds an unsanctioned discussion about a recent drive-by shooting death that she fully begins to ...Written by
Hillary Swank was one of the movie's executive producers. See more »
The same newspaper headlines recur throughout the movie, even though the movie takes place over several years. See more »
So when you're dead, you'll get respect, that what you think?
[murmurs of 'yeah' from the class]
You know what's gonna happen when you die? You're gonna rot in the ground, and people are going to go on living, and they're going to forget all about you. And when you ROT, do you think it's gonna matter whether you were an original gangsta? You're dead, and nobody, NOBODY, is gonna want to remember you, because all you left in the world is this.
[holds up Tito's drawing]
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by Talib Kweli, Kwamé (as Kwame Holland) & Fred Williams
Performed by Talib Kweli
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Contains a sample of "Tell Her" by Fred Williams
Performed by Fred Williams & the Jewels Band
Courtesy of Jazzman Records, Ltd. See more »
Don't listen to the naysayers
I read the message boards before seeing the movie and wasn't really that excited to go see it. Yes, the general storyline has been done before...
I'm a male teenager and this movie made me cry. I can't remember the last time a movie made me cry... in fact, I don't think I have (teary-eyed doesn't count). Freedom Writers moved me.
It was so much better than I expected. All I can say is that it is definitely worth at least a matinée viewing.
The movie reminded me that all of America isn't like white middle-class suburbia, of which I am a part. Regardless of how many times the same movie has been done before, the white middle-class can use as many reminders as possible that education is not that easy to obtain everywhere. Even in America, opportunity is not equal, and I think it's important for people to see that.
Don't judge the movie without seeing it.
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