Last night we saw the documentary Spellbound, which follows eight contestants of the 1999 National Spelling Bee. We concur with the many other positive reviews. This film is a joy to watch. It was especially uplifiting for us to see how these kids, most of whom were from immigrant families or modest backgrounds, worked hard for their goals, made their families and communities proud, and won or lost with grace. Spellbound was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, and regrettably lost to Bowling for Columbine, which is about as much of a documentary as The Wizard of Oz. (Roger Simon also liked Spellbound and has some observations on how it might have lost the Oscar to Bowling for Columbine).
Irene and I could identify with the kids in the film, as we were spelling bee contestants and minor champions in our own right. Irene won her sixth grade bee. I won my school bee in fifth grade and went to on take a whopping 26th place in the Madison, Wisconsin citywide bee in 1973 (I fell out on "arduous"). How could we not admire these kids who competed in the same arena and went so much farther than we had? One gets the feeling that few of the Academy members who voted for Bowling for Columbine over Spellbound ever had much of a clue about spelling or other academic achievements.
The movie's two funniest moments out of many funny moments: "Hooters" and "darjeeling".Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 12, 2003 02:46 PM