Movie review Remember the Titans
“ Remember the Titans” is a film based on real events in 1971, where T.C. Williams High School, a now newly integrated school, becomes a beacon of unification through their mixed race football team. The film is a parable about racial harmony crafted to the formula of a sports movie based on the true story of a high school in Virginia that is integrated with white and black students, white and black teachers, and white and black athletic coaches. It is arguable that in Virginia high school football is a way of life with each game celebrated more lavishly than the Christmas holiday and with each playoff distinguished more grandly than any national holiday (Howard, 2000). It should be noted that with such recognition, comes powerful emotions. In 1971 high school football was everything to the people of Alexandria. But when the local school board was forced to integrate an all black school with an all-white school, the very foundation of football’s great tradition was put to the test.
After the school is integrated the board brings in Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) as the new head coach, replacing Coach Yoast (Will Patton), who is expected to become his assistant Coach. Yoast understandably does not want to be demoted in the name of affirmative action and Coach Boone does not like it, either mainly because he lost his own job in North Carolina and he does not fancy costing Coach Patton his job. However, Alexandria’s black residents gather on Boone’s lawn to cheer for the first black coach at the newly integrated high school and Boone realizes that he has a responsibility and so does Yoast (Yoast & Sullivan, 2005). His white players have pledged to boycott the team if he does not participate but he doesn’t want them to lose college scholarships, so he swallows his pride and agrees to be Boone’s assistant, leading the whites back to practice and takes up the position of defensive coordinator under Boone.
Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Coach Boone) gives yet another one of his finest performances as the new head coach of the high school football team, and Will Patton (Coach Yoast) is equally good and together they try to get their players of both races to get along and put on a winning team as well as establishing harmony among the two races, the whites, and the blacks. This is evidenced by the fact that victories over racism and victories over opposing teams alternate quickly that sometimes the distinction between cheering for tolerance or touchdowns is unidentifiable. In addition to Washington and Patton, there are some other terrific performances by the young actors who portray the football players. As it is told in the film, the Titans did have what became known as the perfect season, whilst the bond formed between the black and white members most definitely existed (Howard, 2000). That said, the film soars high as an inspirational piece for the mixed race community coming together and existing harmoniously.
For Boone however, his career takes a dip soon after returning from football camp and he is told by a member of the school board that if he loses even a single game, he will be dismissed. Luckily, the Titans go through the season undefeated while battling racial prejudice, before slowly gaining support from the host community (Yoast & Sullivan, 2005). Discipline and mutual respect is of great importance as seen when Gerry has his best friend Ray removed from the team because of his racism following an incident where he intentionally missed a block which consequently led to an horrific injury of starting quarterback Jerry “Rev” Harris.
It is admirable the way the screenplay, by Gregory Allen Howard does not make Boone noble and Yoast a racist, but shows them both as ambitious and skilled professionals. There are times when Boone treats his players more like Marines than high school kids. This is evidenced by an office scene where Coach Yoast mentioned to Coach Boone, “You may be a little too hard on the boys.” This is after Coach Boone employs the use of forceful coaching tactics and rigorous athletic training which clearly Coach Yoast does not approve and he does not hesitate to protest. Coach Boone however is not moved by Yoast’s concerns about the boys as he is seen asking “Which boys are you talking about?” He actually believes that Coach Yoast is being overprotective of the blacks whom he has scolded harshly whenever Yoast tries to comfort them and Boone maintains that he would never cosset his fellow whites (Howard, 2000).
Captain Bertier was initially inclined to the idea of having a black coach as well as having black teammates but as the film progresses he is forced to make amends and as a result of his new outlook of the team, he becomes more disciplined in his training strategies and attempts to enforce this same discipline towards his other teammates (Yoast & Sullivan, 2005). He even develops a close friendship with Julius, a Black player on the team and this is evidenced by a hospital scene where he stated to Julius “I was afraid of you”. This act proved that the prejudice attitudes he once held were completely erased.
It was Coach Boone speech that got Gerry Bertier to think about the bigger picture, involving the true meaning of teamwork to accomplish a goal, and as captain of the team, the responsibility he has to ensure that all his fellow teammates are respecting one another even if they don’t like each other. This would be the turning point as he would ensure that there is team spirit and hard work towards a common goal (Yoast & Sullivan, 2005). This is replicated by the team’s success at the championship and infact it got Coach Yoast stating that, “I know football, but what you did with those boys…you were the right man at the right time”. It is apparent that whether the Titans win or lose has nothing to do with the season they have played and what they were trying to prove but the fact that the crowd would cheer the closing touchdown as if it is a victory over racism.
In conclusion, the film serves as a reminder of how much goodness there is inside people, just waiting for the right person to bring it out. It depicts the nature of racism within people’s lives very well and shows how common love for different things can pull people together so that simple and wrong beliefs are forgotten. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships (Howard, 2000).
Howard, G. A. (2000). Remember the Titans: Based on a true story. Santa Monica, CA: Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
Yoast, B. R., & Sullivan, S. D. (2005). Remember this Titan: The Bill Yoast story: lessons learned from a celebrated coach’s journey. New York: Taylor Trade Publishing