reedom Writers, in which the real-life story of Erin Gruwell and her inspirational teaching efforts in Long Beach, California is dramatized and somewhat fictionalized so as to convey the transformational effects of her approach to teaching inner city kids.
The film starts out with images from the 1992 Los Angeles riots, thus establishing the run-down and desperate living conditions of the kids who comprise the student body of Woodrow Wilson High School. Camera shots always work to emphasize the dirty streets, the low quality living quarters of the various students, the sense of danger and violence that stalks them wherever they go. There are many examples of this violence and desperation, such as the drive-by shooting at the convenience store committed by one kid from the high school that kills another kid from the high school in front of two girls from the high school. One of these girls is expected to testify in court as to who was guilty of the murder, but the problem is that he was of her same race. She and the killer were Hispanic and the murdered boy was Asian. It was expected in the street that you protected your own kind and so this girl has to struggle with her decision through a good deal of the film. Although she is friends with the girlfriend of the murdered boy and she knows it is only right that people should be punished for violent crimes, she must also fear for her own safety and the safety of her family as they must continue living in the same streets. This very valid concern is emphasized as she is even confronted in a very threatening manner by other kids from the high school warning her that she better do what is expected.
The main action of the film follows the efforts of a young teacher, Erin Gruwell, who is excited to make a change in the world. Having grown up in the world of privilege in Newport Beach, Gruwell is recently married and recently graduated and sure she can bring positive change to the inner city. However, instead of