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The Great Debaters is based on a true story of Mel Tolson (Denzel Washington), a Texas professor who encourages his African-American students to believe they can take on the world. In 1935, he puts together and coaches a debate team, hoping they can compete against Harvard University in an upcoming championship.
Why Is The Great Debaters Rated PG-13?
The Great Debaters is rated PG-13 for depiction of strong thematic material including violence and disturbing images, and for language and brief sexuality.
Here is additional information on sex, violence and profanity in The Great Debaters...
This inspirational story of a small black college’s debate team during the 1930s provides a glimpse into African American history during the dark years of the Great Depression. Scenes of violence, torture and prejudice toward black people may be disturbing to viewers, although the film never becomes gratuitous in this area. Men are seen beating others, one man is shown with major injuries to his face, and mobs are depicted chasing men and attempting to lynch them. Perhaps the most violent moment is the explicit depiction of a burning body hung from a cross, including close-ups of the man’s legs. The corpse is also seen falling from the cross to the ground. Sexual content includes an encounter between an unmarried man and woman (embracing and kissing in bed is followed by a scene of them waking up the next morning covered only with bed sheets). Language is limited to mild profanities and a few terms of deity, however racial slurs and derogatory names for African Americans are heard many times (spoken both by blacks and whites). Characters are seen drinking alcohol, some to the point of drunkenness (one man picks a fight with another while they are inebriated). A principle character smokes a pipe.
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Denzel Washington also stars in Remember the Titans, another film about conquering racial prejudice. In Akeelah and the Bee a young African-American girl takes on the challenges of the National Spelling Bee with the help of a dedicated coach.
News & Views About The Great Debaters:
18 Movies to Commemorate Black History MonthFebruary marks Black History Month, an annual observance in the United States and Canada. The first celebration of Black History Month took place on Kent State University in 1970. The U.S. government officially recognized it as part of the bicentennial celebrations in 1976. In commemoration of the event we’ve compiled ...
Canadian Movie Ratings
Canadian Home Video Rating: PG
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Details on home video releases of The Great Debaters...
The Great Debatersreleases on Blu-ray on January 11, 2011.
DVD Release Date: 13 May 2008
The Great Debaters takes to the DVD stage and delivers its message along with an audio commentary, deleted scenes, music videos, and a text/photo gallery. Featurettes on music, casting, costume design and the poetry of Melvin Tolson are also included. Audio tracks are available in Dolby Digital Stereo (English).