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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Beyond that, this movie is delightfully nerve-wracking! Suspenseful and full of surprises, its as entertaining as it is important.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting video for my 11-yr-old to view with us. He thought he was the world's best speller until he saw this DVD. Read morePublished 4 months ago by M. Ortiz
A parent in “Spellbound” makes a point of saying, “The National Spelling Bee has been around for nearly a hundred years, and it’s a part of Americana that... Read more
This was a great movie to watch for those who want to see what the Spelling Bees are all about for their child!Published 19 months ago by JoniBean