DVD of the Week – The Great Debaters (2007)


The Great Debaters should sell well on DVD. It was made (certainly figuratively and I suspect literally) to be shown in classrooms and to youth groups around the country. The film teaches about racism and civil rights through the medium of an inspiring story, based in fact, of a winning debate team from a black college in East Texas during the Great Depression. Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker contribute star power and typically effective performances, but the real stars are the three young actors playing the debaters, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, and Denzel Whitaker.

The film is being released as a single disc and in a two disc special edition. Both releases include a commentary by Washington (who also directed), deleted scenes, and a stills gallery. Additional extras on the special edition include a  documentary and short features. If you are looking at buying The Great Debaters, you’ll probably want to spring for the three extra dollars required to buy the two disc special edition.

The movie is age appropriate for high school and college students. It may be suitable for some younger ‘teens and children, but exercise discretion; the team witnesses the aftermath of a lynching and the two older team members have a short-lived sexual relationship doomed by the young man’s immaturity.

Original Commentary Track review of The Great Debaters by Helen Geib.

Other new releases this week: Mad Money, Untraceable, Youth Without Youth


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