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Movie: The Great Debators (2007)

January 13, 2008

This movie “The Great Debators” was released in last year christmas (Dec 2007), with Denzel washington as actor and director, produced by Oprah Winfrey. The movie is about how a group of african-american students in a small Wiley college in Texas go on a debating competition and in climax, they win the white students in Harvard university.


The movie is very much like any tamil movie but with powerful acting of Denzel washington, the movie stands out distinctly. The actors in the student’s role have also done extremely well. These are the points that raise a fragile story line into high levels. Having debates as the major theme in the movie, the dialogs are really good. One other point to note is that, the incidents in the movie happen in 1935, the production design, choreography are just fantastic.

About the story, the debates lean more on the emotional note and not really honest on the facts. It has half-fiction, half-truth. (Not the part that deals with gory details of the sufferings of African-Amercan people in 1930s. See here for details). This really has undermined the theme of the movie and makes us feel this is afterall a good movie but not a great one.


In the climax of this movie, there is a debate scene that was shot inside Harvard univ. itself… The debate is roughly about fighting for justice. A good part of this debate (and the climax) examines Gandhi. The debate turns into a position wherein they argue, to fight for justice whether nonviolence is the right way just as Gandhi did against general Dyer (of Jallianwala bagh) or using violence just as the America did against Hitler.

Here is how the dialog goes:

Gandhi believes that law breakers must accept the legal consequences
for their actions.

Does this sound like anarchy?

Civil disobedience is not some thing for us to fear…

It is after all, an American concept…

You see, Gandhi draws his inspiration not from a Hindu scripture…

but from Henry David Thoreau, I believe graduated from Harvard and
lives by upon not too far from here…

Yieekes…. Is Satyagraham not a Hindu/Indian concept? Is it an American thing?? This is called bending the truth/facts. Though I couldn’t see any reason behind placing such a ‘theory’, I do feel this is really hijacking the facts.

Gandhi did borrow thoughts from various people including Thoreau. He is a learned soul, he can/should use his knowledge from various traditions in leading a country like Bharat. However, saying Gandhi borrowed the idea of Satyagraha from Thoreau and not from Hindu scriptures is not entirely true.

If that is the case, then from where did Thoreau got the idea of non-cooperation? Hindu scriptures of course. He was very much influenced by Hindu scriptures and thoughts.

And after all, Gandhi got the idea of fasting as a moral persuation from his mother who was a staunch vaishnavite.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 25, 2010 11:36 am

    denzel washington is of course one of the sexiest black actors that you can ever see *-‘

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