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Ruby Bridges Reviews

As court-ordered integration gets underway in Louisiana circa 1960, model first-grader Ruby Bridges (Chaz Monet) is selected to be one of the first Afro-American children to attend an all-white school. Although her religious convictions help Ruby's mother Lucielle (Lela Rochon) endorse this groundbreaking role, Ruby's dad Abon (Michael Beach) fears Ruby is being used as a pawn by the NAACP. Escorted by federal marshals past angry crowds, Ruby finds a needed ally in her teacher, Barbara Henry (Penelope Ann Miller), who nonetheless is ordered to instruct Ruby in a room by herself. Outside the classroom, Ruby's parents feel the brunt of media attention and Ruby herself, bottling up the pressure she feels, insists on eating packaged food after a protestor threatens to poison her. Can a child psychologist enable Ruby to admit to her fears and thus rediscover the joy of learning? Will her precocious grace under pressure move even the most hardened of racist hearts? The very model of what a social problem drama should be, this sensitively written and strikingly acted docudrama relives history and seasons it with immediacy. Through Ruby's innocent and impressionable eyes, we see the turmoil of the Civil Rights era. Like the finer historical dramas, it works on both an intimate, human scale and as an evocation of broader socio-political events with far-reaching consequences. Although, like CRY FREEDOM or GLORY, some might fault Toni Ann Johnson's teleplay for focusing a little too much on the white protagonists, the shortcoming is one of emphasis rather than omission. Directed with great care by Euzhan Paley (SUGAR CANE ALLEY), this true-life fable teaches us how bigotry can be eroded by steady faith in God, but ultimately it's about an extraordinary child's resilient triumph over ignorance.