28 November 2006

It all started with Akeelah

I love documentaries. I enjoy reading history. I enjoy hearing about the lives of people around me. Like the people watching thing, I enjoy learning about people and the interesting things they do. So when I saw the movie Akeelah and the bee I had to grab it and watch it.

I have already stated in a different post how much I loved that movie. It was well written and the cast was well rounded. I especially enjoyed Lawrence Fishburne's portrayal of the educator turned tutor. I recommended this movie to everyone and antone looking for a fee good movie to see. I even saw it for sale at Starbucks. huh.

I then stumbled upon another movie on spelling bees. It was the bee season. Not nearly as good as Akeelah but still an interesting movie. I don't recommend you runn out and rent it or anything like that. The movie was convoluted and the story didn't seem to be as much about the bee as it was the mental illness of the mom, that illness not having anything to do with spelling bees.

Then this morning while gluing and cutting and folding, I popped Spellbound into the dvd player. It is a documentary that follows eight (don't call me on it could be 7) National Spelling champion wannabes prior to the big bee. They give you a glimpse of their lives, and their bee style. It was overall a great way to spend a morning. It was a cross section of the students across the US. Each of their stories was different and compelling. You found yourself rooting for all of them. What I loved was the way it was explained to the students that there was 248 contestants and 247 of them would misspell a word. It didn't mean they weren't champions but the contest was designed to have one "champion". One person who spelled all of their words correctly. One by one they misspelled words. All but one of them. One of the kids gets to the final, final. I won't tell you the outcome.

As each goofed up, they were interviewed. There weren't a lot of tears, in fact some were elated they couldn't participate again and the books could be set aside. It seemed to be a good experience for the interviewees. The reasons for participating were varied and compelling. Immigrant families, smart kids looking for a place to fit in, and then your average ADHD child trying everyone's patience was a bit of comic relief.

Also was included a bit on past champions and they even had the very first spelling bee winner, Frank Neuhauser, in the documentary. Yes, he was very old.

Go rent it. It was very good. A great history lesson, a great people studying film, and there were winners, and one big winner.