Describe at least one challenging setting in the text. Explain how this setting helped you to understand an important idea in the text.
Freedom Writer’s is directed by Richard LaGravenese. In Freedom Writer’s the development of Room 203 provokes the idea that you don’t have to let the situation you are in define you. That you are in control of your own destiny.
In the beginning of the film when Ms Gruwell walks through the school, we see the use of mis-en-scene. She first walks through the corridor where she is situated on the left-hand side of the screen and there is a trophy cabinet situated to her right. This shows how prestigious the school used to be before the integration system was added. She then walks past the Honor’s classroom. In here she sees the neat arrangement of desks, tidy blinds, good equipment such as a new television and she also sees the United States of America flag which symbolises the schools honored to be American. However, when she walks into her own classroom, Room 203, she sees a different classroom compared to the rest of the school. The directors use of panning and point of view shots combine to show the disgracefulness of the classroom. The viewer sees what the classroom looks like from Ms Gruwell’s point of view, there is very old equipment and the blinds are untidy. The use of panning also shows how the desks have been ruined by the students and have writing all over them. This use of contrast from the Honor’s classroom shows the segregation within the school. The students who are high performing get new equipment and a tidy workspace, whereas the students who are lower performing get old equipment and an untidy workspace. The school does not care about the lower performing students and only has a classroom for them because they are required to by law. They do not care about teaching these students and instead just want a babysitter for the class.
Ms Gruwell realises the problems within the classroom environment and she tries to fix them to ensure her students can get a proper education. We see this by the combined use of medium shots and panning. During the middle of the film, the classroom has evolved to be a much more welcoming environment. The blinds are tidy, the desks are clean, except the classroom still looks like a chore for the students. There is no sense of home and a welcoming environment in the classroom. This can be seen in the medium shots while the students are playing the ‘Line Game’. Behind them the classroom looks nice, however they still seem out of place. The change in the classroom signals that the students are beginning to change as well, they have grown a desire to learn and they are engaged as a class. The viewer can also see that they are beginning to respect Ms Gruwell and what she asks of them.
Towards the end of the film the change within the students is evident by the change in the classroom. In the closing scene the director uses mis-en-scene to show the change in the classroom. The classroom is now full of colour and it has plants in it which symbolise new life and how the students have turned their lives around and become better people. This use of contrast compared to the beginning of the film shows that although you may be faced with difficult situations, you must not let them define you. The students proved this throughout the film as they were faced with the difficult situation of not being wanted by the school. The school did not want the integration system and the school didn’t want them there either. This meant that they were not provided with the resources to excel. Despite this adversity, Ms Gruwell have faith in the students and this caused the students to realise the although some people did not want them there, they could make the best out of the situation and learn to love learning. The classroom had changed and it now had their work proudly stuck on the walls. The students had embraced their opportunities and shown that no matter what challenges you face, you don’t have to let your situation define who you are.
The development of the classroom throughout the film from a messy and ruined dull classroom at the beginning, to the tidy and colourful classroom by the end showed that even in the worst situations, you do not need to let the situation you are in define you. LaGravenese proved that you do not need to let your situation define you, when you are faced with problems you can be bigger than them and make a good outcome out of a bad situation.