As an aspiring public speaker, I love movies like The Great Debaters. They cause feelings of awe for the hardships that the characters have overcome in order to achieve their goals. In The Great Debaters, a local college debate team overcomes many challenges in order to reach the rank of #1 in the nation. Great Debaters covers many life issues, including aspects of personal development and the motivation of winning.
Henry Lowe (Nate Parker) is shown as a troublemaker, with poor life aspirations. But Melvin Tolson (Denzel Washington) sees into his soul, and realizes that Lowe has great value to contribute to his society. The obstacles facing Henry are a bad environment, and a lack of belief from others. By the end of the movie, he receives what he lacks, and goes on to live a great life. Samantha Booke (Jurnee Smollett) is a very strong character, but lacking in confidence. Upon being selected to the debate team, she is helped by Lowe to regain her confidence. Finally, James Farmer Jr. (Denzel Whitaker) is a 14 year old ‘genius’, but is slightly immature. Upon being selected to debate for Henry Lower, Jr. gains the confidence to be the best that he can be. James Farmer Jr. goes on to start a movement for the equality of blacks.
What gave the debate team the necessary motivation to overcome so many racial difficulties in order to win? This was the job of Tolson. He is strict, and is always concise in his teachings. Winning is most important was Tolson’s strong belief. But winning from a final perspective was more important than winning each and every time. When Tolson leaves the team for the final event, he knows that they are properly motivated to win. The actors do a great job of expressing how motivated the characters are, and how badly they wanted to win.
The Great Debaters is not just excellent for its inspiring messages, but for the production values. Acting, directing, and editing were all excellent. The message gets across to audiences nationwide; winning for others is important, but nothing can compare to winning for yourself.