The Cinematic Genius of ‘Freedom Writers’

Carly Plotkin

More stories from Carly Plotkin

Everybody loves a good inspirational story, especially when it involves overcoming social injustices. There is no denying the feeling of joy when the main character achieves their goal, or the sinking in our hearts when they fail. However, when the story being portrayed is based on true events, those feelings of joy and defeat are amplified. 

“Freedom Writers” tells the true story of Erin Gruwell and her sixth period English class. The group got off to a rocky start in freshman year, with the students being divided by race, and gang violence. However, through the unconventional teaching methods of Mrs. Gruwell, and the realization that none of them are that different, the class becomes united. 

The effects of these teaching methods were presumably not immediate. As Mrs. Gruwell was one of two white people in the room, the students did not respect her. In an attempt to learn more about her students’ lives and earn their trust, she gives the class a journal writing assignment in which the kids must write one entry every day, in any form of writing that they want. Upon reading the journals, Mrs. Gruwell learns of the kid’s lack of education, and when she approaches the board about getting proper resources needed to teach the class, she is swiftly denied. 

Now, I don’t want to spoil everything, but I will say that this is where the class’s journey truly begins. The students’ hunger to learn only grows with their newfound knowledge of the Holocaust, and Anne Frank’s story. Through an inspirational series of events, the students fight to stay with their teacher throughout their remaining high school years.  

This movie truly is the perfect inspirational story that only gets better when you remember that it is all true. I loved the script, and the actors were playing the roles as if they were born to do it. The unspoken bond between the characters is perfectly portrayed, and the abundance of sadness is equally met with witty comments and jokes that are perfectly delivered.