Describe at least one important moment in the text. Explain how that moment changed at least one relationship or character.
It is an important lesson to learn from our experiences and to realise how we can become better people. Director Richard LaGravenese utilises the moment in the Courtroom Scene to prove that with the right influences anybody in society can change. In the film Freedom Writers, when Eva sent Paco to prison for the crime he committed it changed her because she realised that it was not her gang that defined her, but her actions. This realisation is important in society because often people are caught up in what is going on around them and they don’t realise the impact they can have.
When people are put in a situation they feel uncomfortable in they often like to remain quiet so they don’t affect other people. However, Eva felt uncomfortable in the courtroom scene because it was a situation where she had to make a life-changing decision. LaGravenese utilises point of view shots in the build-up to the important moment. These point of view shots prove that no matter what Eva does she will affect people. If she turns in Grant Rice who is accused of the murder he will go to prison and he and his family will never get to lead a normal life. Additionally, Sindy will never get justice for her boyfriend’s murder. Whereas, if she turns in Paco she is betraying her gang and will probably get beat up. In doing this she is also betraying her family in particular her father as her father went to prison for a fellow gang member. However, LaGravenese shows the important moment through the use of sound. He combines dialogue and non-diegetic music to convey the message that it is better to do what is right rather than what is easy. While Eva is giving her evidence she talks fluidly and at a reasonable pace. However, when it comes to the moments before making her decision she begins to falter before ultimately saying, “I saw…I saw…Paco did it. Paco killed the guy.” This moment is important because it proves that even though there will be consequences for your actions it is always better to tell the truth, even if it is harder to do. This is combined with acoustic guitar music from the opening scene. The music starts playing softly as Eva starts giving her evidence as it comes to her important decision the tempo increases creating a sense of tension and it keeps playing until the end of the scene. LaGravenese uses this sense of tension to prove that this decision is hard for Eva she doesn’t know whether to betray her gang or to betray her community.
Before this moment, although Eva had begun to change due to Ms Gruwell’s influence, there was no evidence to support this change. This moment caused the realisation that just because she has been taught to act this way her whole life, it doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. Just like other things her gang had taught her such as it is alright to kill if it means protecting your own, Eva realised the ultimate idea that just because someone tells you to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. The director expresses this idea through the use of reaction shots. When Eva says that Paco committed the crime, the viewer sees multiple shots of different groups of the audience reacting to what Eva has just said. Everybody in the audience is surprised as they didn’t expect this due to Eva being part of a gang. Paco buries his head in his hands displaying his disgust for Eva turning him in. However, the look on Grant Rice and his family is of utter disbelief since Grant Rice expected to be going to prison. Eva’s mother also looked disappointed in her as she thought Eva would protect her gang and also because she realises that Eva’s father may never talk to her again after this. The use of close-ups further this idea throughout the scene the viewer sees close-ups of Eva as she gives her evidence. As she gets closer, her eyebrows begin to raise and her eyes begin to water showing she does not know what to do, whether to act as her gang has told her or to act as she believes she should. Then after Eva has given the statement that Paco killed Sindy’s boyfriend, she looks at her mother apologetically but with a look signalling that she knows within her heart that she did the right thing. This is an important idea within society as we should know as citizens that our actions have consequences and when we know within our heart that he did the right thing, that is when we can be happy with ourselves.
LaGravenese further expresses this idea of not letting your situation define you in the closing scene. He uses a mid-shot of Eva which encompasses contrast, colour, costume and mis-en-scene to clearly prove that the moment in which Eva realised she was in control of who should we become in the courtroom scene changed Eva into a better person who realises the effects of her actions. Eva is now wearing a colourful blue and pink top, the colours are vibrant showing the new person she has become she is no longer wearing dark colours symbolising her gang but bright colours symbolising who she is as an individual. The mis-en-scene also has plants in the background symbolising the new life. Eva has changed to be a better person and now has a new way of living based on her actions. The contrast from the opening scene and the courtroom scene to the closing scene shows the development of her character she has changed from being a gang member based on living to a societal member based on thriving through experiences. This idea is important for society because as members of society we should focus on learning from our experiences and living the best life we possibly can. People often make decisions that hinder their ability to be happy but by thinking through their actions people can make the changes they want to see. Throughout life, you will be faced with situations where you feel uncomfortable or as though you were set out to fail. However, you should not let your situation define you. Think through what you are doing and take all the time you need because ultimately it is your decisions that decide the person you will be.
Although Eva’s decision was hard, she did the right thing and confirmed the change within herself. She had become focused on doing the right things for everybody around her rather than doing the right thing for her gang. All actions have consequences, but it is when those consequences are for the greater good that people can realise it was the right action to take. When Eva said Paco killed the guy, she got beat up as a consequence but the community was safer, resulting in her actions being successful. This proves that through her actions Eva had become the best person she could be. She did not let her situation define her. Within society we are accustomed to the traditions and customs of those around us, even when we think they are not alright we continue to follow them as the people who enforce them are those individuals aspire to be. However, it is when people dig and look through what they have been taught by those they look up to that they realise that as individuals people should make the decisions for themselves become it is in finding out who we are as an individual that we can make society a better place.