Watch Words by Heart
- 1 hr 47 min
Words by Heart is a powerful and poignant coming-of-age drama film set in Depression-era Mississippi. First released in 1985, the film tells the story of a young girl named Lilly Ann Dupree (played by Alfre Woodard) and her family, who struggle to cope with racism and poverty in their rural community. The film opens with a sweeping shot of the rolling hills and cotton fields of Mississippi, as Lilly Ann, her mother (played by Charlotte Rae), and her father (played by Robert Hooks), sit on the front porch of their small wooden house. The family appears to be content - they are warm, fed, and have each other. However, it quickly becomes apparent that they are also living in fear. The Ku Klux Klan burns crosses in their fields and goes on brutal raids, and the family has to be constantly on guard.
Lilly Ann, who is about ten years old, is a gifted student, but her opportunities are limited by the segregation and poverty of her community. When she learns that the school board is planning to close down the black school in the area, she decides that she needs to take action. She sets up a meeting with the school board president (played by John Lehne), and boldly speaks up for the importance of education for black children.
The heart of the film lies in the relationships between the characters. Lilly Ann and her mother have a close bond, grounded in their shared love of reading and storytelling. Lilly Ann's father, on the other hand, is a highly flawed man who struggles with alcoholism and anger issues. He often takes out his frustrations on his wife and daughter, leading to tense and sometimes violent confrontations.
The family's situation becomes even more precarious when the local branch of the Klan decides to target them in retaliation for Lilly Ann's activism. The family is terrorized by night riders who shoot at their house and burn their crops. Lilly Ann's father, in a fit of rage, decides to take matters into his own hands and confronts the Klan members himself. The results are tragic and far-reaching.
Throughout the film, Lilly Ann seeks solace and escape in the world of literature. She memorizes poems and stories, and envisions a life beyond the confines of her small town. She dreams of one day becoming a writer herself, and of sharing her stories with a wide audience.
Words by Heart is a deeply moving and beautifully told story of resilience, hope, and the power of language. The film's cast delivers strong performances, with Woodard in particular bringing a fierce and compelling energy to Lilly Ann's character. Rae and Hooks are also excellent, portraying complex and nuanced individuals who are struggling to survive in a world that is stacked against them.
The film is also noteworthy for its handling of issues of race and class in Depression-era Mississippi. The filmmakers do not shy away from the harsh realities of segregation and violence, but they also explore the ways in which people can find joy and meaning in their lives in spite of these obstacles. The film's ending, while bittersweet, is ultimately a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the ability of people to find hope, even in the darkest of times.
In conclusion, Words by Heart is a must-watch film that resonates with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. With its powerful performances, richly drawn characters, and compelling themes, it is a timeless work of art that speaks to the enduring human experience.
Words by Heart is a 1985 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0.