Gabby Giffords: Won’t Back Down Review

On January 8th, 2011, Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot during one of her Congress On Your Corner events. Gabby would do these events to talk to the people and see what issues they had with the government. Her reasoning in doing these was that she was the state representative and wanted to talk to the people she represents. On this day, the event was changed when a young man opened fire on Congresswoman Giffords and the crowd in attendance.

Gabby Giffords: Won’t Back Down begins with images and newsbites of Gabby Giffords as a child and making commercials for her father’s tire shop. We see her rise in government and the positive words of those who know her. We learn about her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and all the hard work they both would do in their respective fields. As the montage continues we slowly draw close to that fateful event on January 8th.

A lot of the footage we see in this documentary was taken by Mark. He wanted to record Gabby’s progress and asked a friend to get him a camera and started recording from the day she came out of surgery. The camera captured all of the good and bad moments of Gabby’s rehab. From the struggles of opening her eyes to watching her get frustrated because the words do not flow as easily as they used to. Mark being there for Gabby throughout her rehab not only shows the quailty of the man he is but also the strength of their marriage.

Throughout the documentary we see how Gabby defeats the odds by getting her speech back at a faster pace than expected. We see how using music helps Gabby battle through her aphasia. We are shown many highlights in Gabby’s rehab but we are also shown the menance that is taking over the country: Mass Shootings.

We are shown the aftermath of many of the mass shootings that occured after Jan 8th. From Sandy Hook to the Pulse Nightclub to the shooting in Las Vegas we see how the need for changes in gun reform are needed. Congresswoman Giffords begins to speak out and starts working to have new gun laws passed. The NRA (National Rifle Association) has their moment to address these issues by using the same rhetoric they always use “The only person that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” or “Schools needs more armed police and security guards”. There is a great counterpoint to the “good guy with a gun” that I will not spoil for you but if you remember the incidents after the January 8th shooting you will remember what I am alluding to.

Gabby Giffords: Won’t Back Down uses music perfectly in telling the story of Gabby. Using Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” to show her strength give the song a new meaning. The use of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” comes at a moment when Mark leaves for a space mission while Gabby is having brain surgery. Watching Gabby and her therapists singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” fills your heart with joy as you see her regaining her speech. Moments like this show you that with all the hard times that Gabby has in rehab there are light moments that show her progress.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords shows us her voice can not be silenced. She proudly states “Words once cem easy. Today I struggle to speak but I’ve not lost my voice. America needs all of us to speak out even when you have to fight to find the words.”

Final Thoughts: Gabby Giffords: Won’t Back Down is an inspirational documentary that shares with the viewers the struggles and victories of Gabby Giffords after being shot on January 8th, 2011. The documentary takes the viewer into the rehab room and shows us the fight that Representative Giffords has to survive. This documentary is not only inspirational but also shows the viewer that sometimes you can not silence a strong voice.

Kid-Friendly: The documentary does deal with an adult topic of mass shootings and the aftermath of what happens to a person shot. I would suggest you watch it first before having your children watch it.

Violence: While there is no violence in the documentary, there are images of the aftermath of mass shootings. The images that are shown are not graphic but may be upsetting to those that watch.

GABBY GIFFORDS WON’T BACK DOWN tells the extraordinary story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, her relentless fight to recover following an assassination attempt in 2011, and her new life as one of the most effective activists in the battle for gun violence prevention and in promoting understanding of the language condition aphasia.

Featuring extensive verité filming of Gabby and her husband, astronaut-turned-Senator Mark Kelly; interviews with President Barack Obama and other friends and colleagues; and exclusive access to stunning videos taken in the weeks following her near-death experience, this film is the story of a rising star transformed by an act of violence, and a close-up portrait of the marriage that sustains her.

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