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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Great Day (aka Le Grand Jour, aka The Big Day) is a French documentary film with English subtitles. Filmmaker Pascal Plisson scripts and stages the events leading up to critical days in the lives of four kids from four countries who are striving for excellence. In Cuba, Albert is an 11-year-old boxer. In Mongolia, Deegii is an 11-year-old contortionist. Nidhi, 16, from India. is a talented mathematician. And, finally, in Uganda we meet 19-year-old Tom, a passionate lover of animals. These are all kids whose struggling families dream of their children succeeding, hoping their lives will exceed expectations. Solid messages about what it takes to realize dreams and reach goals are emphasized. The only "action" sequences are boxing matches and training in which Albert participates. Plisson's visits with each of the young people introduce the varied cultures, family relationships, religious traditions, and modes of living, and clearly show the commonality of families across the globe.
What's the story?
THE GREAT DAY follows young people from Cuba, Mongolia, India, and Uganda as they train, study, practice, and sacrifice to accomplish important goals. They're all from close-knit families with few financial resources. Albert, a very young boxer, hopes for entry into Havana's Sports Academy, an important step on the way to an Olympic appearance that eluded his father. Deegii, 11, trains with other very young girls to be a contortionist (acrobat); her acceptance into Mongolia's premier school would be momentous. In India, the bright, spirited 16-year-old Nidhi hopes to be an engineer, the first in her family to get a higher education. She studies intensely for the nation's Super 30 mathematics competition, which would assure her future. Finally, Tom, at 19, wants to be a wildlife ranger. He's passionate about protecting animals in his native Uganda and dreams of working with chimpanzees. With a group of other young people, Tom prepares for a written and oral exam that follows his extensive training and would result in his becoming a ranger.
Is it any good?
Because Pascal Plisson has opted to stage events in the lives of very talented kids from around the world, the otherwise compelling and informative film doesn't have the impact it might have. Rooting interest is still strong. Many of the in-person interviews feel alive and credible, as do the actual competitions. The young people at the film's center engage and delight. Their families are exemplary in their devotion and support. Roberto, Albert's best friend and private boxing "coach," may even be worthy of a film of his own. And it's not as predictable as one might expect. However, because it's clear from the outset that some of the scenes are staged, The Great Day ends up being a hybrid, which detracts from its authenticity. Still, it's recommended as an excellent and informative look at four unique cultures and four unique kids whose experience shows that reaching for the stars is never easy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that the four families portrayed in The Great Day have much in common, despite their diverse cultures. In what ways are they the same? In what ways are they different? Why is it important for everyone to understand that dreams, challenges, and family relationships have no national boundaries?
How does the movie illustrate such important character strengths as perseverance, self-control, teamwork, and courage?
Some of the scenes in The Great Day were "staged." What does that word mean in this context? For what purpose do you think filmmaker Pascal Plisson chose to stage, script, or re-create some of the events? How did his choice affect the impact the movie had on you?
- On DVD or streaming: October 10, 2017
- Cast: Alberto Gonzalez Monteagudo, Deegii Batjargal, Nidhi Jha, Tom Ssekabira
- Director: Pascal Plisson
- Studio: Pathe
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Science and Nature
- Character Strengths: Courage, Gratitude, Perseverance, Self-control, Teamwork
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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