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Spellbound [UK Import]
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Who would have thought that a documentary about spelling-bee contestants could be as suspenseful as a Hitchcock thriller? Spellbound, which follows eight kids from their early victories in regional spelling bees to the national competition in Washington, D.C., is an out-and-out nail-biter. Each of the kids--who range from a quietly driven African American girl from a run-down D.C. neighborhood, to a genial Connecticut girl who talks about bringing her au pair to a previous competition, to an almost zombie-like boy whose immigrant father has paid 1,000 people back in India to pray for the boys success--gets captured so vividly that you cant help but get emotionally immersed in their brave, nerve-wracking struggle to spell slippery, treacherous words. Along the way, Spellbound contrasts the crazily different populations that make up the U.S. and shows how this facet of intelligence truly makes everyone equal on the podium. A riveting, wrenching, must-see movie. --Bret Fetzer
Die Dokumentation folgt acht Schülern mit unterschiedlichstem sozialen Hintergrund bei ihrem Einzug ins Finale des landesweiten amerikanischen "Buchstabier-Wettbewerbs" - Kinder aus privilegierten Familien, von einer Farm aus Texas oder aus einem Armenviertel Washingtons; Kinder, die von ihren Eltern oder sich selbst unter Druck gesetzt werden - oder lediglich mit Spaß bei der Sache sind.
"Spellbound" ist ein erfrischend origineller und unterhaltsamer Blick auf das amerikanische Phänomen des Schülerwettkampfs - zusammengesetzt aus acht Handlungssträngen, in denen die Protagonisten und ihre Familien in niemals zynischen, verblüffend ehrlichen Interviews vorgestellt werden. Das Debüt von Jeffrey Blitz offenbart einen erstaunlichen Sinn für Humor, Einfühlungsvermögen, Intelligenz und Spannung, die mit jedem Drama mithalten kann.
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But when I took it out of the DVD case and put it in our player, my son walked into the room, sat down for a second and didn't move for the rest of the movie. He was more riveted by this film than most of the action movies and flicks aimed at kids..and I think I know why. This movie features real kids from various parts of the United States, all trying to become the winner of the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. They aren't practiced actors and yet (surprise, surprise) they are totally engaging. You can't help but root for them although you may find yourself (as my son and I did) with a particular favorite or two that you hope makes it to the winner's circle.
The kids featured here come from all walks of life and quite different parts of the United States...and they all have various systems and techniques for learning their spelling words. Their parents run the range,too, from bemused to straightforward and disciplined.
Who'd have thought this would make the stuff of high drama, excitment and suspense? Kudos to the filmmakers for figuring it out - and producing such a wonderful result!
Special features:Information about what the students are doing now, an interactive Hangman game, info about the makers of the film, more.
Beyond that, this movie is delightfully nerve-wracking! Suspenseful and full of surprises, its as entertaining as it is important.
The pressure mounts for all eight of these charming young spellers (as well as for their tense parents -- well, maybe even MORE so in the case of a few of the parents) as each one wins his or her regional competition, and makes it all the way to the "Big One" in Washington.
You can really feel the nervous anxiety and the stress that these kids are experiencing as the camera zooms in on them while spelling these seemingly impossible-to-figure-out words. You'll find yourself rooting for them, right along with their anxious parents in the audience.
Amazingly, I found that I was actually able to spell a couple of the dictionary behemoths that were offered up during the competition. Of course, less than 1% of the monster words you'll find in a National Spelling Bee are words you've ever even remotely heard of before....and certainly none of these words would *ever* come up in a casual dinner conversation at home (or even at a dinner party hosted by Albert Einstein, I would surmise). But, the kids that participate in these "Bees" are prepared for virtually anything it seems.
Three of the top eight spellers at the '99 National Bee are among the 8 boys and girls featured in some depth during this 97-minute documentary film, including the eventual winner.
I was rooting for each and every one of these nice kids. It's a shame they couldn't all get a trophy. But those that were eliminated took it in stride, showing a great deal of poise and sportsmanship. All of these young folks showed a lot of class -- and I truly *don't* think it was solely based on the fact that there was a camera in their face the whole time. I felt these kids would have reacted in the same classy manner had there not been a documentary being made about them.
This DVD offers up some rather interesting Special Features, too .... including some "Bonus Footage", which is a nice, healthy 24-minute-long segment focusing on three additional spelling-bee contestants.
There's also a filmmaker's Audio Commentary Track, the Theatrical Trailer, as well as some informative text screens on the spellers, including a "Where Are They Now?" section.
In addition, there are also some DVD-ROM features, including a fun "Hangman" game. Even if you don't have a DVD-ROM computer drive, you can still get to the "Deluxe Hangman Challenge!" game by going to the following web address:
Aspect Ratio is Full Frame (1.33:1), with a 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack.
"Spellbound" is indeed a "spellbinding" motion picture. The ultimate "reality" film. So sit back and enjoy this excellent movie...and learn a few new words to boot (you'll never use them, but, what the heck). :)
Oh, and if anybody ever tells you that you're positively "callipygian" -- don't haul off and hit 'em with a frying pan. It's a very nice compliment. Really, it is. Look it up. ;)