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The Hobart Shakespeareans (2005)

Rafe Esquith , Ian McKellen , Mel Stuart  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Rafe Esquith, Ian McKellen, Michael York
  • Directors: Mel Stuart
  • Producers: Alex Rotaru, Mel Stuart, Chad Baron, Tamara Blaich
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CRR3GA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,535 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Hobart Shakespeareans" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Filmmaker interview
  • Filmmaker biography

Editorial Reviews

The Hobart Shakespeareans is a delightful profile of one phenomenal teacher and his eager students who together touchingly demonstrate the power of education.

What happens in Rafe Esquith’s classroom defies the odds. With genuine passion and ironclad conviction, Esquith turns the Asian-American and Latino children of a violence-stricken central Los Angeles neighborhood on to the wonders of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and mathematics. The Hobart Boulevard Elementary fifth-graders respond heartily, rattling off the names of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays or doing rapid-fire arithmetic in their heads. The children are refreshingly engaged as Esquith takes them to Washington, D.C. to visit national monuments, leads them on tours of college campuses, and implores them to work hard and believe in their own self-worth. At the end of the semester they pull together--with a little help from famous actors Ian McKellen and Michael York--their final triumph: a student production of Hamlet. Through tears and laughter, this endearing troupe casts aside the conventional wisdom about the failures of education in the United States.

Academy Award-nominated director Mel Stuart deftly probes the secrets of Esquith’s winning strategy in a story as inspiring and rewarding as it is exceptional.

DVD Features: Filmmaker Interview; Filmmaker Biography; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-see DVD -- A remarkable teacher September 15, 2006
By Miss
Format:VHS Tape
This documentary was remarkable--moving and inspiring. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were more teachers like Rafe Asquith! Not many are willing or able to take the time out of their personal lives that he does, but it's obvious that spending those Saturdays and taking those trips with his students are more important to him than spending free time at home. It's obvious, too, that he teaches not only facts, but values and life lessons. He CARES. I just loved him.

And "guest speakers" to his classroom weren't shabby--Michael York and Ian McKellen, who said that being there made him want to cry because the students felt the same way he does about Shakespeare.

The camera work was excellent, capturing the expressions on those kids' faces--the tears, the joy, the comprehension, the pride. A scene that particularly impressed me was the one when Asquith was reading from Huckleberry Finn. The camera focused on the face of one boy and as he listened, tears rolled down his cheeks. Others, equally moved, were also shown. It's amazing that the teacher made them FEEL that story so deeply and that these ten-year-old children grasped and empathized with the Huck's inner conflict at the thought of turning in his slave friend, Jim.

Some of the Amazon reviewers of Rafe Asquith's book were critical. Some of the teachers in his own school shunned him. I'm sure it was hard for them to compete. I taught in public schools, and I can understand how they felt. In all honesty, I was not dedicated to the degree that he is. I had children of my own and could not give that kind of extra time and effort to my career even though I loved teaching. But it's still inspiring to see the true story of such a remarkable teacher, and I think anyone could learn something from his approach to teaching.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
One teacher takes a group of kids from the roughest neighborhoods and not only gets them to put on a production of Hamlet each year but teaches them to learn, grow and believe in themselves, day in, day out. It isn't easy and the challenges are shown in detail but this teacher also shares his philosophy - and what a philosophy it is! He admits that he failed in his first years of teaching, watching as his former students failed in middle school.

But somehow he recreated his teaching method and, in the process, has inspired countless children, gotten actors like Ian McKellan and Michael York to visit his classroom (!) and taught children who'd had teachers give up on them that they were not doomed to failure. If more teachers were like this one, what a future generation we'd have!

Great family film....great film, period.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and moving January 9, 2006
This PBS film should be viewed by everyone. It is motivational and inspiring. It truely defeats the "what can I do I'm only one person?" attitude. Makes you wish that all people had the same attitude as Rafe Esquith; the world would be a better place.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If those Middle Schoolers can do it, then you can, too November 10, 2006
I am a high school English teacher. My students are always reluctant to tackle Shakespeare so I show this DVD first. I am not sure that this DVD inspires my students, but it does squelch the claim that Shakespeare is too difficult.

This DVD is extremely well produced and is very engaging.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most moving film I've ever seen. August 19, 2006
This documentary was so inspiring that I sent it to my parents. None of us are in the education field but I just had to share it. It's what education should be, and I hope every child gets a fraction of this sort of learning, loving school environment. I can't recommend it enough.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where There's A Will, There's A Way December 25, 2006
In this enormously entertaining and moving DVD, Rafe Esquith emerges as a remarkable teacher, the rare sort who combines the ability to amuse students with the will to hold them to the highest standards. His fifth grade class at Hobart Elementrary is shown as mostly eager to rise to the challenges he poses. Such a two-way educational street leads to magical results. These include not only reading the very books (e.g. "Huck Finn," "To Kill A Mockingbird,"etc.) most students don't encounter until high school, but even putting on a Shakespeare play each year. Not surprisingly, as we learn toward the end of the DVD, many of his students in later years go on to the finest colleges and universities.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about Rafe and the Hobart Shakespeareans October 13, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I've read both of Rafe Esquith's books There are no shortcuts and Teach like your hair is on fire. I was excited to find out that there was also a documentary out on him and his teaching methods and determination entitled "The Hobart Shakespeareans." Upon seeing his teaching style up close, I continue to be awed by this teacher who works 12+ hour days with students from racially mixed backgrounds in an inner city neighborhood. Yet his work pays off-his students typically score in the best 5% of students taking the SATs, and get accepted at both Ivy league and other colleges all over thw world. Rafe's students get to attend national monuments and tours of college campuses due to funds from his private, non-profit organization "Hobart Shakespeareans." At the end of every school year, his students put together a Shakespearean play in which they act, do sets for, music for, etc. It is a moving documentary of the work of the most highly decorated teacher in the history of teaching. It was wonderful to see what his students can do in and out of the classroom, and to see what Rafe seems to really be like. I am in awe of this man, and boy do I wish I had his energy.
My only fault with this documentary is that I wish the entire production of "Hamlet" by the HObart Shakespeareans had been shown as an option on the special features of this DVD. I would have really liked to have seen the entire play that the kids worked so hard on. The clips do not do it justice. That is the only reason I gave this work four stars rather than five.
This DVD will inspire anyone who works with children to push themselves more-it is amazing what one person anywhere accomplishes!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting & Amazing, I saw this on PBS about 4 years ago, and it...
Among other things, I have a Calif-Teaching-Credential, and taught briefly in San Diego & LA. I find the Bard' a bit hard to get into, but am facinated by the work attributed to... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Z. G Zinzel
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should own this one
This restores your faith in the human spirit. I have watched it so many times that I wore out my old VHS copy.
Published 3 months ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a great show
I was really excited to get this DVD before school started again. I was not disappointed. What an example! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rose Hammon
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
This inspiring documentary features the fifth-grade classroom of teacher Rafe Esquith, who clearly makes a difference in his students' lives. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Joyce
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid
All of the books that Rafe has written are wonderful. I am doing classroom economics because I read about it in one of his books. Read more
Published 15 months ago by MS FACS teacher
5.0 out of 5 stars quality of product
The DVD was in excellent condition. I have been very pleased with 'Movie Mars'. It was mailed quickly with great care. Read more
Published on November 25, 2011 by cautious shopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Artists should be ashamed of themselves...
...if they have not distributed copies of this DVD to their family, friends, and legislators.

"The Hobart Shakespeareans" does a very good job of illustrating that... Read more
Published on November 6, 2011 by Mark Pearce
5.0 out of 5 stars Great message
This is a wonderful, thought-provoking book that educators and future teachers should read. It is inspiring, compassionate, and discusses how to give students the resources and... Read more
Published on September 3, 2011 by BR
5.0 out of 5 stars liberate natural curiosity
There Are No Shortcuts, Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 author Rafe Esquith earns $40,000/year teaching 9 year olds in 2000 student Hobart... Read more
Published on August 1, 2011 by Sakuteiki
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational!
This documenatary was recommended by a parent/teacher. I am a fifth grade teacher and I teach a unit on Shakespeare each year. Read more
Published on May 7, 2011 by M. Eckrich
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