Is the American Dream attainable for everyone? What if you are a girl? Throughout history women have been regarded as second class citizens. In Million Dollar Baby, the waitress Margaret Fitzgerald has to fight every imaginable prejudice in order to fulfil her dream.
The movie Million Dollar Baby (2004) is based on a short story written by a former boxing trainer. Clint Eastwood has directed the film version and he also stars in the role as Frankie, boxing trainer and operator of a run-down gym in Los Angeles. Hilary Swank portrays Maggie, the waitress from Missouri, who dreams of becoming a professional boxer. Scrap is portrayed by Morgan Freeman. He is the injured former boxer and caretaker of the gym who reveals the story to us.
Watch the Film
"I'm 32, Mr Dunn, and I'm here celebrating the fact that I spent another year scraping dishes and waitressing which is what I've been doing since 13, and according to you, I'll be 37 before I can even throw a decent punch, which I have to admit, after working on this speed bag for a month, may be God's simple truth. Other truth is, my brother's in prison, my sister cheats on welfare by pretending one of her babies is still alive, my daddy's dead, and my momma weighs 312lbs. If I was thinking straight, I'd go back home, find a used trailer, buy a deep fryer and some Oreos. Problem is, this is the only thing I ever felt good doing. If I'm too old for this, then I got nothing. That enough truth to suit you?"
In this way Maggie sums up her life up till now. What does this reveal about her and her motivation?
- Maggie might be characterized as a "white trash" girl. If you look at the statement she gives about herself (look above), how does it correspond with the lexical explanation White Trash (Wikipedia)?
What do these lines reveal about Maggie's character and general attitude? What do you think makes her so tough?
Maggie: "I seen you looking at me."
Frankie: "Yeah, out of pity."
Maggie: "Don't you say that. Don't you say that if it ain't true. I want a trainer. I don't want charity, and I don't want favours."
Frankie:"How many eyes do you need to finish this fight?"
Maggie: "One's enough."
- (Frankie to Father Horvak): "I swear to God, Father, it's committing a sin by doing it. By keeping her alive, I'm killing her. Do you know what I mean? How do I get around that?" What is Frankie's dilemma and what is his solution?
- This film has a so-called false ending. Why do you think the director chose to include this? And why was it necessary to add a final scene? What effect does the false ending have?
- Scrap is the narrator. What kind of narrator is he and how does he contribute to the story? Is he a reliable narrator?
- Who do you think is the real protagonist in the story? To whom is the story addressed?
- How is Margaret's (or rather Frankie's) Gaelic slogan important in the story? What does it signify?
- If you look at the competence aims in your teaching plan, which curricular issues are highlighted in this film?
- Maggie asks Frankie to commit euthanasia. Why is this a controversial issue? What do you think about the way Frankie handled it?
- Critics have accused the film of having sneaked a right-to-die agenda into the plot. Do you think the film is biased and that it promotes this view?