This biographical sports drama contains the very essence of those true values. This is a top (if not the best) film in this domain because, unlike similar achievements, there is no stain that would stand out and spoil the overall impression. However, this film is not alone in its essence. Moneyball, which I wrote about earlier, or Any Given Sunday, are also great examples of such strong biographical dramas. Unfortunately, today we live (whether we want to admit it or not) at a time when everything has become an interest in any form, which has taken precedence in all spheres of life, especially in the sphere of sports. That is why this film is a great opportunity to return to the roots of the true values and meaning of sports – the true spirit of the team’s game. As my friend said, this film is a real contrast to today’s sport – not raw strength, but heart.
The place of the action is the city of Alexandria, the state of Virginia, in 1971, a time of racial unrest. Due to the implementation of interracial equality, the authorities are starting to put black people in local schools in leading positions and in some way try to unite the hitherto strictly separate, exclusively white or black high schools. North American Carolina North American Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) coached the American Titans football team Titans in high school, while former coach Bill Joast (Will Patton) was replaced, and later, although reluctantly, accepted to be appointed his deputy. Although Joast does not reconcile easily with the unjustly lost place, he is aware that he must sacrifice himself for the common good of the team. However, his fellow citizens are against that racial interference in sports, and the players are not thrilled that they will have to play together, especially the leaders of both currents – talented white Gary Bertie (Ryan Hurst) and black Julius Campbell (Wood Harris).
The director of the film is a relatively unknown American of Jewish descent, Boaz Yakin, who is an educated filmmaker and is currently dedicated exclusively to screenwriting, where he has had a lot of success (Now You See Me, The Rookie, Prince of Persia, etc.) compared to directing. . He did not write the screenplay for this film (it was written by Gregory Allen Howard), but he directed it masterfully. He incorporated seemingly incompatible things, such as racism and discrimination with sports, friendship and dedication, and it really turned out to be impressive because in a way these seemingly incompatible things complement each other. The whole film exudes a shocking and difficult note (theme) at the same time, but also inspiring and fluttering in many moments. The obvious motive of sacrifice also runs through the entire film. Sacrifice of life, private obligations, work, all for those long-forgotten values.
Apart from a few refined things in order to achieve the most impressive / credible impression, Remember the Titans is an authentic depiction of one such event / time. I mentioned earlier that the film has no major stains. Still, there is one that caught my eye. There are indications that the character of coach Herman Boone has been slightly embellished, in the sense that he was not as popular / loved / inspired by the players as shown. He was strict (sometimes too strict), he forced them to the limits of physical endurance and all that was shown in the film, but in reality, due to his strictness and this way of working, many players gave up who could not cope with it, which again is not shown in the film. Still, I wouldn’t be there if I didn’t find an excuse for that as well. At one point in the film Boone says This is no democracy. It is a dictatorship. I am the law. I think that with that deliberate quot, the director tried to correct the thing a bit. He is the type of coach / man who knows that the stronger the chain, the stronger the weak link.
In this case, Denzel’s character had the opposite role and he realized it himself – the chain is as strong as he / the coach is strong. Strong for the environment, an example for young people, a role model for the future. In any case, in American films, one cannot escape the overly ideal image of the character / person being portrayed. Real examples of this are the films Captain Phillips or Hotel Rwanda where the ugly but persistent sides of the portrayed persons are totally neglected or even denied so as not to spoil the overall picture of the film itself. Personally, I think that such an established approach is a mistake because idealism is not equal to man, and all these films talk about man as a human being. A real man is only completely presented with all his virtues, but he also has his flaws that also make him complete. That should not be skipped because it leads us astray about people and idealizing them, which we certainly have in abundance today.
Biographical dramas of this character often stumble upon the intended predictability of the action or pathos, which is an inevitable accessory to such achievements, but I claim that the pathos in this film is reduced to a minimalist level that you almost do not notice. We in the film of course have a happy ending because those things happened just like that. Any desecration would be a departure from the term true story and then this was not a real biographical drama. By avoiding that with a brutally honest presentation of things and facts that were a fact at the time, Remember the Titans gained even greater value. Directing, screenplay and truthfulness are nothing alone if there is no great acting in a project like this on which he depends the most. So, I’m not saying good acting, I’m emphasizing – great!
It is led by the proven Denzel Washington, who is again a master. I no longer know which epithets to stick to his acting, what to use to describe the brilliance and persuasiveness of this actor in every film where he acts. So I’m going to focus on the other actors who didn’t lag far behind Denzel. The first of them is Will Peyton, who plays the character of assistant coach Joats. I really appreciate this actor, even though he is constantly in the so-called acting offside. He always plays some minor, but again important, profound roles. His character in the film must stoically receive the blow of great injustice, without falling. He must also remain faithful to himself and his life principles, remain moral to the end and set an example for his daughter. She was played by (then still a child) Hayden Panettiere, who at times was too hyperactive for the role, but her childish charm, incorruptibility and sincerity put that segment in the background. I will point out a couple of other actors – the great Ryan Hurst as Bertier, Donald Faison as Pite, the blonde kitten Kip Pardue as Ronnie Bess and the then unknown Ryan Gosling. One of his first roles, although only a minor one, but even then it was seen that he was a great talent.
Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.
I did not observe the Titans from a technical point of view at all, but I referred exclusively to the message it carries and which is the only important one. True values have not become extinct. They do exist, they live among us, but some other accompanying circumstances and situations have darkened them so much that we almost don’t recognize them. In order for them to take over the primacy of these distorted and wrong ones again, we need the full truth, confrontation, real sobriety that this film abounds in. We need to change the value system, to return to the absolute honesty and sincerity that this film teaches us and brings us back, at least for a moment. As he himself says – we need to primarily change ourselves, our consciousness, to become better people. Better for others, and therefore better for ourselves and to change the system we live in together, because our current system was created on lies that devalued the spiritual and material values that should make our lives and that we should strive for.
Entire segments of our social, political, and economic realities are too limited, trapped, spent, neglected, or indebted. Lies, cowardice, greed and cowardice have become common and normal phenomena and characteristics of many (most), and apathy and fear are the reality of our society. In the film, such things are shown and persistent, but they are overcome and defeated. Yes, it takes time. Yes, that requires great deeds, not empty words. But it is possible, and that is the only thing that matters.
I mentioned earlier that this movie is the heart. To some, this sentence may sound pretentious or even too pathetic, but from my point of view it is so. Since I first watched this movie, I watch it at least once every year. To touch me, to inspire me, to see that not everything is so black. To remind me that there are still good, morally correct people who do the right things for the benefit of the greater good, who do not think exclusively of themselves, that there are still very honorable and honest people in the field of sports, in general. This is just a movie, but it is based on a true story that really happened. So, it is possible that this will become a reality for someone again. Someone, somewhere, and possibly all of us.