In the remarkable new film Half Nelson, Ryan Gosling stars as Dan Dunne, an idealistic history teacher in Brooklyn who might have more luck finishing that children's book on Hegelian dialectics if he wasn't spending all his free time passed out on the bathroom floor. [He's a crackhead.]
Dunne does manage to incorporate the philosophy of affecting change in an interconnected, dynamic, and contradictory world into his high school's arid names & dates curriculum, but except for one upbeat montage where Dunne paints some yin-yang symbols or something at his coffee table, the book remains just a dream.
Which is interesting, because Dialectics4Kids.com, which gets a plug in the end credits, turns out to belong to the father of the film's co-writer/director Ryan Fleck. [Score one for brainwashing your kids!]
Papa Fleck does an admirable job translating neo-Hegelianism into kid-friendly terms, but The ABC's of Change ["A - Snow builds up and up and up on a mountain . . . until there's an Avalanche."] could really use some visuals. I hope the lack of illustrations doesn't mean Half Nelson is autobiographical.
Dialectics - The Musical, however, is spot on; had the kid up and dancing and jumping and spinning around non-stop.
The ABC's of Change [dialectics4kids.com]
Half Nelson is playing now. See it. [halfnelsonthefilm.com]
Interview with filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden [nowtoronto.com]