The three movies I am going to discuss in my paper are Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, and Freedom Writers. These movies all tie in together with education and improving someone’s view of their self-worth. These movies are about someone of importance believing in someone who has had a rough start in life and taking them under their wing when no one else has or will. Even though the movies are set with different scenarios and background information, they are all about full filling someone’s full potential and figuring out where they belong and who they are. I am going to discuss Teaching technics, character backgrounds, the transformation of the characters, how they push the students potential, and who is really saving who to show how these movies relate. Also I will do a brief explanation of film technics used in these movies to show how they help understand the relationships in these movies.
Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, who is the main character in Good Will Hunting, changes his life completely, all he needed was for someone he trusted and respected to believe in him and that is exactly what his therapist, Sean Maguire, Robin Williams, did for him. Not only did Sean help Will change is life, Will helped Sean start living his life again. Even though Sean is the mentor in this story Will and Sean live their lives in a very similar way, neither one of them will let people into their lives. Since Sean’s wife passed away, he lives a very private life. Will makes a statement about Sean’s personal life based on what he has learned from books. Sean is straight forward with him and tells him that he does not know everything that he may be a genus in academics, but he does not know anything about real life. Will was in and out of foster care and was severely abused as a kid. The only people to ever have his back are his three friends, Chuckie, Morgan, and Billy. His best friend Chuckie, played by Ben Affleck, looks after him and makes sure he is taken care of. A bitter sweet moment for the two of them is when Chuckie tells Will that he deserves better than the life he is living right now. Sean teaches Will with a mixture of tough love and life lessons. Will does not know what love or even what life is truly about even though he thinks he does because he reads books about them. Will does not know what love is until he meets Skylar, Minnie Driver, and even then he cannot admit it to himself or anyone that he loves her. He needs the push from Sean and the stories he tells about his late wife to give him hope that someone can love him. Professor Gerald, Stellan Skarsgard, really pushes him to do his best and to get his life together, but Will sees it as a joke. He believes that where he is now, is where he will be for the rest of his life, because he does not deserve better.
This movie does have some great film technics such as the camera angles and camera movements. A good example of camera movement is in the beginning of the movie when Will is reading in his small apartment they used a pullback dolly shot to show how alone Will is with his thoughts. Another good example of camera movement is when Will and his friends get in the fight at the basketball court, most of the fight scene was filmed using an aerial shot to show how close of a bond these friends have and how they will do anything for each other. When Will is in his therapy sessions with Sean they are never in the same shot, until their last scene together when Sean is showing him his evaluation and Will breaks down and hugs him and really lets Sean into his life.
Finding Forrester is a story about a young man, Jamal Wallace, played by Rob Brown, seeking writing help from a famous writer, William Forrester. Jamal comes from a fairly normal family he has a mother and an older brother that believes in him and encourages him. However, Jamal lets the thoughts of others get in the way. He does just enough in school to pass, but not enough to get noticed for his amazing writing skills. When Jamal is offered a scholarship to the private high school, he is faced with a lot of racial comments and racial stereotypes. His English professor accuses him of plagiarism, because Jamal’s grades from his last school does not add up to the work he is doing in class now. William Forrester, Sean Connary, really pushed Jamal to get in touch with his writing abilities. William starts by editing Jamal’s paper and then starts giving him his old writings and tells him to copy it until his own words come to him. He tells him to first write with his heart and then go back and fix it with his head. William teaches by giving Jamal a little push and then lets him do his own thing, he does not hover or push him and we see this the first night William tells him to write a paper. Even though Jamal has always had the support of his family; having the help from William Forrester gave him more confidence in his writing and in himself. Not only did William help Jamal, Jamal really changed William’s life and made him realize that he is missing out on the rest of his life being held up in his apartment all the time. William has isolated himself from everyone ever since his brother died, because he blames himself for his death.
The use of the camera angles and the camera movement shows how isolated William and Jamal are. Jamal is afraid for anyone to know how smart he really is, and William does not want anyone to know he is still in the area. We can see that William chooses to keep the world out by the six or so locks he has on his door. We know Jamal does not want anyone to know how smart he is, because when he writes in his journal at school he hides it in his locker so no one will see what he is doing.
Freedom Writers is another great movie showing how one person can impact someone’s life so much and make them change into a completely different person. Hilary Swank plays, Erin Gruwell, a new teacher at Woodrow Wilson high school, is teaching a new group of freshmen and she learns very quickly why no one else has taken their time with these kids. All of the kids in her class have had a rough upbringing and have been affiliated with gangs their whole lives. Of course, to make matters worse they are all apart of different gangs and they hate each other. Marcus got kicked out of his house because he got involved with gangs, Eva has to go to court and lie to save her own even though she knows it is wrong, and Andre is still selling drugs even after seeing his brother get prison time. Erin finds a way for them to realize that they are all the same in some way and that they have all suffered similar pains. This makes them realize that they are all fighting the same battle and they are not that different. Erin makes the classroom their safe place, somewhere they can be their selves and be friends. All of the students do a complete 360, they stop dealing, they do better in school, and they realize they have a future outside of a gang. Erin is facing her own battles at home, but these kids make everything better to her. Seeing them succeed and start to think about their future is what makes her happy. This group of kids who took a liking to her very quickly helped her realize this is what she is supposed to be doing, this is her calling. By the end of the movie Marcus goes back home and tells his mom he is sorry, Eva does the right thing and tells the truth in court even though it puts her at risk with her own gang and her father, and Andre stops selling drugs.
Some film technics used in Freedom Writers is when the fight broke out in the school yard it showed all the different races fighting each other and it made a point to show the kids in her class fighting with one another. It really puts into perspective how much these kids hate each other in the beginning for the audience and for the teacher, Erin. Another excellent camera technique is when Erin has them step up to the line when a question applies to them during parts of the scene the camera is only angles at their feet, not their faces. Showing that they are all the same, everybody has their problems no matter what race you are.
All of these movies have the same ideology, which is, someone of importance believing in a kid who everybody else has labeled a lost cause. Even though in these three movies the background information of the characters are different, they are all fighting the same battle. Will was abused as a child and was raised with no one believing in him, Jamal had a good home life, but had to deal with racial stereotypes, and the students in room 203 were all raised to fight for their own. Each mentor found a way that worked to teach these kids that they had a bright future and that someone was fighting for them. Another great running theme in these movies is how the students help the mentors get their lives back. The therapist, Sean, in Good Will Hunting is much like William Forrester, in Finding Forrester, because they have both suffered the deaths of a loved one and have closed themselves off from the world. Until these kids come into their lives and make them realize they are letting life slip away.