While there are many great sports movies, Remember the Titans has always stood out in my mind. I first watched the movie with my fourth grade class, and one thing that really struck me was the wide range of emotions that my classmates showed throughout the movie.
The characters, the raw emotions of the players, and the ending all inspired people to laugh, cry, and shout. Though many people in the class had no interest in sports, not a single person walked out of that classroom disappointed.
One reason that Remember the Titans is such a successful film is the depth of the characters. The characters all have many different layers, and it is easy for different audiences to identify with them.
The movie is based on a true story, and the four main characters, Gerry Bertier, Julius Campbell, Coach Yoast, and Coach Boone are truly remarkable men. The hardships they overcame and the friendships they forged, both on and off the field, were extraordinary.
When a nurse tells Julius that he can’t visit Gerry, because only kin are allowed in the room, Bertier says, “What are you talking about. Can’t you see the family resemblance?”
This single line illustrates how far these boys came. A divided team at the beginning of the season, the team matures into a very tight squad. After the final scene, we see what each of these men did after they graduated. The epilogue was one of my favorite parts of the movie, because following the characters after football reaffirms that this is a true story, with real people.
Throughout the movie, the characters all had to overcome adversity on and off the football field and though the film’s plot is dark at times, it is also well-balanced. There is a blend of comedy and tragedy that I found very appealing. There were many funny aspects that lightened the movie, and I burst out laughing many times.
Louie Lastik, the gigantic and affable lineman who eventually earns a C+ to be eligible for college is a great character who has many hilarious lines. He is constantly singing, and music becomes a major theme throughout the the movie. The players are constantly singing, and music is one of the many unifying aspects that the team finds.
I don’t know a single person who didn’t feel something when the players took the field singing “We are the Titans.” This song really summed up the season. The players played so that everyone would remember the Titans.
The comedic aspects, though, are evened out by the racial tension and the adversity that the team faces. The team faces racism from parents, coaches, and even themselves, but the squad proves by the end of the movie that they are above racism.
When he is being outcoached, Coach Yoast swallows his pride and asks Coach Boone for help. Before the championship game, when Bertier is paralyzed in a car crash, the team comes together in support of Gerry and each other. The scene in which the players, both black and white, are congregated in the hospital waiting room waiting for news is truly moving.
Depth of character and a balanced plot are challenging, but the hardest part of creating a good sports movie is achieving a balanced ending. If the team wins the big game at the end of the movie, critics scoff because the movie was too predictable. If the team loses, viewers leave feeling unsatisfied and disappointed.
The most incredible quality of Remember the Titans is that it falls into neither of these categories. The team does win the championship game, but they do so with heavy hearts, and the players, both white and black, find common ground in the genuine sorrow they all feel for the loss of Bertier.
It is a truly inspiring story, and the ending sacrifices neither suspense nor fulfillment.
It was very difficult to choose what I think the best sports movie is. It is much easier to argue that aspects of a sports movie are better. For instance, I would find it easy to argue that the Rocky movies have far and away the best training scene of any sports movie, but to christen one sports movie the definitive best is far harder.
I’ve talked to many people and received a lot of different votes ranging from Caddy Shack to Without Limits to Space Jam.
The reason that I finally chose Remember the Titans was that it affected everyone, from diehard sports fans to people who have never touched a ball, and it is one of the few sports movies that combines depth of character, a balance between comedy and tragedy, and a truly outstanding ending.
I’ve watched the movie many times since fourth grade, and yet the emotions that I felt when I watched it the first time are still every bit as sharp every subsequent time I watch it.