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Spellbound

4.5 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

SPELLBOUND follows the lives of eight young Americans who share one goal: to win the National Spelling Bee. Think this sounds boring? Prepare to be blown away. The Bee is as intense a competition as any Olympic match, and for the spellers and their families, the stakes are just as high. The unbearable pressure becomes even more extraordinary as it is felt by ordinary teenagers. Watch as the Bee becomes a dramatic backdrop for the bigger story about kids and families today as we discover thatwithin the roller coaster ride of the National Spelling Bee can be found the heart of America.

Special Features

  • Bonus footage
  • Where are they now? updates on all 8 profiled spellers
  • Interactive Hangman game: deluxe edition
  • Educational guide: includes Host Your Own Spelling Bee kit and more

Product Details

  • Actors: Ted Brigham, Angela Arenivar, Nupur Lala
  • Directors: Jeffrey Blitz
  • Producers: Jeffrey Blitz
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 20, 2004
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000WN13Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,718 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spellbound" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Spellbound is an engaging documentary about eight kids who are hopefuls in the national spelling bee, 1999. I mention this first because honestly, I was expecting a scripted comedy film when I rented this based on the iControl description! Well in spite of my mistake, I found a worthwhile film with Spellbound.
Now I know this sounds extremely boring to the huge majority of us out here who have never even considered competing in a spelling bee. Give it a chance -- this movie is really about the individuals and their private dramas as they go through their training processes for the contest. We see a wide variety of approaches to preparing from both the parents' end and their kids': but truthfully, this whole thing reminds me of stage parents getting their children ready for those awful pageants. Almost across the board, pressure is applied to the kids to perform and WIN. For example one dad (who sounds to me like the most extreme perfectionist control freak that ever existed) drills his son on seven to eight thousand words per day and paid hundreds of people to pray for his son to win. He also promised that he would pay for five thousand people in India to have dinner IF his son won first place in the spelling bee. Talk about a heavy burden to put on the shoulders of a twelve-year-old kid!
The two exceptions to this stage parent mentality are interesting. One is the mom of an African American girl from a poor neighborhood; the other, immigrants from India whose daughter is a first generation American. In both cases, the girls were made to feel that they were good enough even without a championship trophy or a medal. There was never any suggestion that they were defined by their success in this spelling contest.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
2002's "Spellbound" is a nail-biting documentary, which follows eight young contestants as they prepare to enter the 1999 National Spelling Bee Championship in Washington, D.C.
The pressure mounts for all eight of these charming young spellers (as well as for their tense parents -- well, maybe even MORE so in the case of a few of the parents) as each one wins his or her regional competition, and makes it all the way to the "Big One" in Washington.
You can really feel the nervous anxiety and the stress that these kids are experiencing as the camera zooms in on them while spelling these seemingly impossible-to-figure-out words. You'll find yourself rooting for them, right along with their anxious parents in the audience.
Amazingly, I found that I was actually able to spell a couple of the dictionary behemoths that were offered up during the competition. Of course, less than 1% of the monster words you'll find in a National Spelling Bee are words you've ever even remotely heard of before....and certainly none of these words would *ever* come up in a casual dinner conversation at home (or even at a dinner party hosted by Albert Einstein, I would surmise). But, the kids that participate in these "Bees" are prepared for virtually anything it seems.
Three of the top eight spellers at the '99 National Bee are among the 8 boys and girls featured in some depth during this 97-minute documentary film, including the eventual winner.
I was rooting for each and every one of these nice kids. It's a shame they couldn't all get a trophy. But those that were eliminated took it in stride, showing a great deal of poise and sportsmanship.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Regardless of how disenchanted one might become with its politics, its politicians, or its policies, a film like this restores one's faith in what our country has to offer its young people. Even if you happen to think the sort of ruthless competition that goes on in this film is another strike against us as a country, there's still something very moving about a child being nationally recognized and celebrated for the size of her vocabulary rather than her socio-economic background, social skills, or appearance. In a place saturated by the influence of beautiful people (valued often for nothing else), its refreshing to see the child with the braces and the bad haircut hold up a trophy that comes up to his chest, and walk away with enough money to see him through his first year of college.

Beyond that, this movie is delightfully nerve-wracking! Suspenseful and full of surprises, its as entertaining as it is important.
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Format: DVD
This extraordinary documentary follows eight youngsters as they prepare for the 1999 annual National Spelling Bee. If you've ever watched it on ESPN, then you've seen the unique spellers who often last to the final stages. "Spellbound" highlights brilliantly the ways in which these youngsters and their families are exceptional. The eight youngsters, their families, and their hometowns are profiled separately; these narratives are by turns funny, inspiring, and heart-wrenching. Among the more amazing stories is Angela Arevivar, whose parents came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico and don't speak English. Her father, however, sees clearly that Angela's success justifies leaving his home country, and he accompanies her proudly to the bee. Aside from these emotionally resonant stories, young Harry Altman nearly steals the show with his wacky humor, including his bizarre imitation of a musical robot.
After introducing the youths and their families, the documentary accounts the actual bee. The tension is nearly unbearable when the spellers are given a difficult word, and seeing them eliminated is heart-wrenching. The documentary swells to a remarkable finale, due to the skillful editing by Yana Gorskaya and the debut work of director, Jeffrey Blitz. In addition, "Spellbound" is filled with amazing triumphs and heart-breakers. Hearing Ashley White's single, disadvantaged mother explain that the greatest moment of her life was seeing her daughter crowned champion at the city spelling bee is sure to leave a lump in your throat. Another warm moment is when a mother discusses how her child is somewhat of an outcast in her school but that she's popular at the bee.
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