The Great Debaters

Release Date: December 25th, 2007

DVD Release Date: May 13th, 2008

PG-13 |2 hr 7 min

Plot Summary

Poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) teaches at the predominately black Wiley College in 1935 Texas. He decides to start a debate team, something nearly unheard of at a black college. While at first he butts heads with the influential father (Forest Whitaker) of one of his best debators, eventually he is able to form a team of strong-minded, intelligent young students, and they become the first black debate team to challenge Harvard's prestigious debate champions.

Cast: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Denzel Whitaker, Jermaine Williams, Gina Ravera, John Heard

Director: Denzel Washington

Genres: Docudrama

Production Co: Harpo Films

Distributors: Weinstein Co.

Keywords: Rise, Quest, 1930s, Inspiring

Ratings & Reviews

  • 70
    Kirk HoneycuttThe Hollywood Reporter

    An earnest drama about the search for self-esteem and sense of responsibility among young black people that successfully relies on its fine actors. show more

  • 88
    Carrie RickeyPhiladelphia Inquirer

    A triumph. Unapologetically old-school, in both the literal and metaphorical meanings of the term, Debaters overlays the story of social underdogs onto the familiar template of the stand-and-deliver saga, the staple of sports inspirationals like "Rocky," "Invincible" and "The Karate Kid." show more

  • 70
    Joe MorgensternWall Street Journal

    Mr. Washington is splendid, as always. So is Forest Whitaker as James Farmer, Sr. show more

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Nominated Best Motion Picture - Drama