The documentary film spellbound represents an American dream; it is a documentary that has a lot of warmth and it progresses through the story of children with open sincerity. By following the story of each student, one gets the picture of ups and downs that they undergo as well as one will be able to understand what drives them to study for several hours.
The documentary film, Spellbound, produced by Jeff Blitz is an examination of a regional spelling bee competitions. The film introduces only eight out of the approximately two hundred contestants in the national spelling Bee. The film introduces Angela, a second generation Mexican who lives in the rural Texas, Nepur, a girl from the middle class family of Indian descent from Miami, Ted, a loner from Missouri, Emily, who is an upper-class daughter born to academic parents from Connecticut, Ashley, an African-American teenager living with her sister and mother in an apartment in Washington. Neil, an Indian-American from affluent family living in a beach house in California, Amber, a working class daughter of a bartender in the industrial hub of Pennsylvania and Harry who is the son of an office worker from New Jersey. Both converge in Washington, DC for the real spelling bee and the ultimate duel climaxes when the two spellers meet.
The documentary is narrative that is dramatic, suspenseful and comedic. All the children are determined on their desire to succeed; they are all overzealous about achieving this goal. It is the personal narratives of all families that make the film socially relevant and enthralling. The Spelling Bee competition builds an uneasy sense of competition and conflict that propels the film out of its present state. The narrative is structured around the preparation for children to take part in the Spelling Bee participation. Blitz uses the competition to exemplify the value of education and the value that education holds for Americans. By choosing students from the various socio-economic and ethnic groups, the director uses the film to demonstrate the plurality of children to better themselves diligently through education.
The film demonstrates that despite student race and social class, an individual has the ability to advance economically through education. There is a valid sub-text in the subtext in spellbound and a justification that education is a fundamental means that an individual can advance through various education classes irrespective of the racial background of the individual. Spellbound puts a lot of evidence to the implication that it is through perseverance and hard work that student can achieve success in America. The students share several commonalities that transcend race and class, they are all have supportive parents, tutors and parents who offer them with sustained determination, mentorship, self-motivation and very high cognitive skills. Ashley believes that she has had an uphill walk home from school; she hints that her life has been like a movie because she has undergone through various tribulations and trials and that she has finally overcome. She resorts to prayer as her guide during her class work.
The documentary film covers unique stories of determination to succeed. This represents an American dream. Angela’s parents are Mexican immigrants’ parents who came to Texas illegally to start new life. Their determination to succeed has not been hindered by their language barrier because she engages in verbiage where she teaches herself without the assistance of any software program or any coach. The film also has the story of Neil, who comes from Indian descent and has capitalized on the American dream. He is provided by his father with all the preparation materials required to succeed; these preparation materials include foreign language teachers, computer programs and spelling coaches to energize him to finishing line.
In the film, there are several stories of hardship such as that experienced by Ted. Ted despite the hardships excels in very many things such as spelling, grammar and math. The students themselves are very motivated and have the urge to make it in their lives. This is demonstrated by the fact that some of them are making their second attempt on the competition like Nupur who is making a second consecutive trip after failing in the last two attempts. Although her parents are against the idea of another trial, she is motivated b three boys who are determined to leave her on spell out. She was quick to recognize her weaknesses in the choir and equestrian and she only resorts to spelling as the only means that she can beat her friends and excel.
The documentary is not about the student who wins but it is a story of personal determination and triumph; it is more so importantly about the strong work habit, sold family foundation and good ethics. All the children are grounded with big dreams and who are determined to realizing and achieving their dreams. The national spelling bee symbolizes the story of determination and those who have earned the right to take part in the competition share a common interest and goal. In the competition, hard work is considered very much rewarding.
Most of the students have trained for the tournament on their own. Most of them have utilized the availability of their supportive parents, professional coaches and computer tutorials. The case of Angela which she teaches herself is a remarkable story of sheer determination and motivation to succeed. Three students from Nupur’s Florida junior school are determined to block her in the competition but through her hard work, she is determined to go all the way to the finals. In the case of Ted, his intelligence makes her stick out like sore thumb but with the help of his teachers, he gets the opportunity to showcase his talents to his peers. Ashley rose to the peak of the competition due to her own determination and the help of her teachers. April DeGideo, despite coming from a poor family in the city of Pennsylvania is determined to utilize the opportunity provided by the spelling bees competition to enhance his life. Emily Stagg, despite coming from an affluent background manages to find time for the competition is squeezing it between practicing with the choral group and riding lessons.
Most of the student contestants have spent much of their own time drilling and studying. They try to realize this by using scrabble tiles, private tutors, computer programs, and crossword puzzles that are homemade. Although some of them are snared by sheer nerves, obscure etymologies and deceptive vowels, their motivation, confidence and determination gives them going in the competition. The story of the eight students intertwine hence forming a fascinating portrayed of young group of people together with their families whose culture developed into a window to look at the modern American society (Aitken 1)
Aitken, Ian. The Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of the Documentary. 2013. Print.