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Freedom Writers (Widescreen Edition)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, April L. Hernandez
  • Directors: Richard LaGravenese
  • Writers: Richard LaGravenese, Erin Gruwell, Freedom Writers
  • Producers: Hilary Swank, Daniel S. Levine, Danny DeVito, Jordana Glick-Franzheim
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Widescreen, Color
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 17, 2007
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (692 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NOK1KC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,096 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Freedom Writers (Widescreen Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

- Deleted Scenes
- Making 'A Dream'
- Freedom Writers
- Freedom Writers
: The Story Behind the Story
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.


Though the "inspirational teacher" theme may feel done to death, Freedom Writers succeeds because it emphasizes the students as much as the teacher. Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby, Boys Don't Cry) comes to a southern California high school bubbling over with naive optimism, but quickly discovers that her unruly classroom isn't easily won over by her good intentions. After a few floundering attempts to connect with her students, Gruwell gives them the assignment of keeping journals about their own lives--an assignment that the class bites into with relish, which eventually bonds them together and pushes racial rivalries aside. This plotline has been made before, sometimes well, sometimes poorly; Freedom Writers, by drawing heavily from the published journals of the students--and thanks to a (mostly) unheroic script, direction that emphasizes individual characters over stereotypes, and rigorous performances from the whole cast--makes the story seem fresh and genuine. Swank does solid work, but the standouts are April L. Hernandez as a girl whose gang wants her to lie and send an innocent boy to jail and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) as a teacher who resents Gruwell's offbeat success. Also featuring Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy), Scott Glenn (The Right Stuff), and a plethora of strong young actors. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Very good story & good acting.
Peggy Bubier
Based on a true story, Freedom Writers gives a look at how a teacher can affect the lives of students in a positive way, just by believing in them.
This movie says that one person, doing the right thing and staying true to their vision, can make a difference one day at a time.
Cathleen M. Walker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hedge on July 30, 2007
Format: DVD
**A few spoilers in this review**

Amazon's has it all right in their comments on this underrated, wonderfully acted, and fair treatment of our current education system that all too often gives up on what it considers the "undesirables" present in every school, the teachers who think that they know it all (both villain and heroine in this film), and the kids who believe that they have no reason to even try to prove others wrong.

The dialogue is blisteringly realistic, sensitive, insightful, and painfully honest most of the time. In many ways there are no real villains in this film although there are two specific teachers who attempt to give Swank's character difficulty either because she is attempting to succeed where others have failed, or because she thinks she is better than others or has the key to her students' success if others would just get out of her way. It's easy to see the veteran teachers' resentment for Swank as Gruwell. She is brash, naive, overconfident, obsessive, and appears to want to outshine her colleagues although that really isn't her intent, but one can see how a veteran teacher would see her as a threat to their status which they feel, and rightly so to some degree, have earned. Simply because these older veteran teachers may not be as "on fire" as Gruwell, who is new to the profession, doesn't mean they aren't still dedicated. In their defense, Gruwell really does just dismiss their experience, expertise, and dedication to the education profession because they have become a bit more jaded by their life experiences in this profession. She does come off rather self-righteous at the wrong times such as when she's actually seeking help. Talk about ironic.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Little Miss Cutey on February 6, 2008
Format: DVD
I don't know about anyone else, but I went through a lot of tissues in this movie. Not because it's sad (although there are a few sad parts here and there), but because it's so moving and heart warming. It took me too long to get around to watching this and I'm sorry for that, but now that I've seen it, it's definately a new favourite of mine and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It's based on fact and what a teacher, Erin Gruwell, does to turn around a class of kids who seem helpless. It's far better than Higher Learning or Dangerous Minds. It's got a fantastic cast in it and they all did such a great job. Hillary's character starts out a little niave because she thinks from the start that it's going to be a piece of cake to teach this class English. However, soon after they arrive at the first lesson, she sees it's going to be an uphill battle. A little on in the movie, after she sees a drawing someone drew of a black student, she begins to get them thinking about how these actions can take their toll, by refering to the way Jews were drawn in newspaper cartoons back in the beginning of the Nazi uprise. These kids have never heard of the Holocaust and she overtime, helps them see what Jews faced when the Nazi's took over Germany and other parts of Europe (she takes them to the Simon Weisenthal Museum of Tolorance) and she plays games with them where they divide into two sides of the room and come to the center of the room for each thing they have in common (such as whether they've lost someone they love in gang violence, or whether they have the same music taste). Soon they see that it doesn't matter if they are Black, White, Hispanic or Cambodian - they are all so similar in so many ways and they shouldn't let race divide them.
You HAVE to see this brilliant movie.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Tolle on May 13, 2007
Format: DVD
Hillary Swank plays the part of Erin Gruwell, a new teacher starting out in Long Beach, California teaching a freshman class of students that have suffered many difficulties in life so far. Each of them in the class has already been subjected to violence in school and in their communities and they also confront peer segregation in the form of cliques or `tribes' as described by one student.

Erin Gruwell, new to teaching and on unfamiliar ground, starts out by absorbing the abuse given by her students and eventually finds ways to break down the racial tension and communicate with them. She is able to accomplish this even with the school principal and department head of English are not supporting her methods or acknowledging her successes. On her own, Erin Gruwell works two extra part-time jobs to help pay for school books and other materials that she cannot get from her own administration. So much of her time is spent on bettering her students that even her marriage begins to deteriorate.

Beginning a new class project where everyone is to keep a journal and make daily entries, Erin Gruwell eventually reads the journals, with the approval of her students, and begins to connect with them even more in that she now understands the pain in their lives and hardships they have faced. This also drives her to become even more influential in their education and give them hope and inspiration in becoming what they never thought they could. The students in her class, some being the first in their families to ever graduate high school and then go to college, do just that. They eventually call themselves Freedom Writers and they also put their journal entries together to create the `Freedom Writers Diary' which was published in 1999.
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