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Spellbound Documentary

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In the film Spellbound, there are many themes that are may seem evident, and then there are those which are underlying, but just as significant. One palpable premise is the levels of intensity in terms of support, studying, and the general environment from the parents. For example, Neil had a very concentrated father who was constantly involved in preparing his son for the spelling bee by being his tutor and providing him with heartening words. April’s parents expressed their inability to meet with their own friends because they were so consumed with helping her study. On the other end of the spectrum, Ted’s parents seemed somewhat supportive, but did not show too many signs of encouragement or assistance with studying or training. Another theme some might argue is that this spelling be is a form of child abuse. It could be thought that the parents are pushing their kids to hard to win. Instead of the spelling bee being a friendly competition, it could turn into something that weighs own on the child with the feeling of potential disappointment from parents and perhaps a loss of their own self-assurance.

An additional theme is the way the children were presented in their school and social life in, for lack of better terms, a nerdy way. None of the participants are made out to be relatively popular; their interests are depicted to be more unaccompanied and considered somewhat out of the ordinary for kids their age. April’s activities were shown being done by herself, and her mother even stated that April often was teased for being so occupied with spelling and studying. In Ted’s case, his teacher commented on how he had not been able to adjust well to the new school and kids, and she also conveyed that his interests were different from his peers. One of the last subject matters had to do with the places and settings in which the interviews and commentaries took place. In Neil’s case they tended to show expensive cars and homes, which gave an impression of a well-off financial situation, whereas with Ted and Angela, they showed dirt roads leading to their home. Neil’s mother came off as relaxed while she was talking on the sofa and his father seemed serious while sitting in his office.

Lastly, in my opinion, the most imperative theme in the film is the children’s self esteem. Angela was relaxed and confident during her segment, as was Neil. Emily stated that she was very competitive when it came to spelling because it was the only thing she felt she was good at. However, she was the only one who admitted to her competitiveness, yet towards the end she was pessimistic and unconfident. Ashley came off as being very worried and scared throughout her segment, and became very emotional while in the spelling bee. Nupur and Angela were ready and waiting for the contest. Nupur’s schoolmates were stating that even they knew how much she wanted to win. Harry was overly eccentric to the point where even the judges appeared to be annoyed.

April’s self esteem seemed to be the worst out of everyone’s; her life revolved around the spelling bee. Almost her entire interview was her being down on herself. She was so insecure and apprehensive at even the thought of winning, which it put into perspective the seriousness and intensity of what came across of just an ordinary spelling bee. Ultimately, I would have not done anything different if I had made the film. The contrast of family life, monetary status, and the children’s perception, was well done because it illustrated a variety of children, who all had ostensibly had to same goal. In the end, the one thing they all had in common was the feeling of relief that the competition was over.

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