Movie Paper Assignment
Remember The Titans
The civil unrest that occurred during the 1960’s and 1970’s is hard to imagine. For people that didn’t experience the civil rights movement, that time period is only known through movie and book images. Remember The Titans is an American film based on true events starring Denzel Washington, Will Patten, and Wood Harris. The movie takes place in the 1970’s in suburban Virginia. One of the main focuses of the film is on the integration of whites and blacks into one school and one football team. The film is very accurate in its history. Although a few details are inaccurate, such as the year the school was integrated, the director, Boaz Yakin, did a great job keeping the facts straight.
The movie is a Hollywood drama based on the true story of a newly integrated school, T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria, Virginia, and its football team in 1971. The movie begins with a prelude explaining the integration of the school and a short background of Bill Yoast, a white football coach with a prestigious résumé. Drama begins when a black coach, Herman Boone, is chosen to be head coach of the newly established high school. Coach Boone is a strict leader with an unbelievable sense of pride, which can be seen within the first minutes of meeting him. As the team loads the bus to train at summer football camp, Coach Boone integrates every white player with a black player as roommates. For two weeks the team is sent away to practice and bond together as a team. By the end of the camp many teammates of different colors become friends, and team chemistry begins to build. As the movie continues, the drama follows.
Although Remember The Titans is based on a true story, it is surely exaggerated. T.C. Williams High School was developed by an integration of the black and white schools under federal mandate in the Virginia school systems in 1963. In the movie it states that the school was established in 1971, which is false. ("IMDb.com") As black students arrive at the first day of school in the film protesters hoot and holler racial slurs at them. This would not have been the case at this time. Alexandria, Virginia is portrayed as a stereotypical southern town. In reality, Alexandria was a fairly integrated town before the school was even built. African Americans would more than likely have experienced racism—probably some even today—it is unlikely racism to the extent portrayed in the film would have occurred.
Another misconception in the film is the size of Alexandria, Virginia, which is shown as a small rural town in the film. In reality this “town” was a suburb of Washington D.C. with the sights of the Washington Monument visible across the river. Alexandria wasn’t a small town at all. T.C. Williams was actually a consolidation of three area schools. Realistically the success of the team is directly associated with the amount of athletes consolidated into one school rather than the result of racial integration. It was consolidation with two other schools that gave them a larger talent pool to choose from, which resulted in the best athletes from three area schools. ("IMDb.com") Factually, their talent was unbelievable. In the film the T.C. Williams Titans are contested in multiple games including the state championship game. The team that this movie is based on won the state championship 27-0 and was never contested on their way to the title. The talent of the Titans was under exaggerated to create a more dramatic season.
Towards the end of the movie right before the state championship, Gerry Bertier, the team captain, is injured and sent to the hospital after an awful car accident. Actually, the car accident shown in the film didn’t happen until after the season. Gerry Bertier finished the entire season as team captain. The film shows Gerry being hit by a semi truck in his Camaro. The factual police report of the car accident infers that Gerry’s car had a mechanical failure and then struck a utility pole.
The racism that is witnessed throughout the movie is very realistic. Incredible amounts of slander and racism were thrown towards African Americans in the 1960’s, especially when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. According to Encyclopedia Virginia, “This bill officially outlawed discrimination in public accommodations and employment and established the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Equal Employment Opportunities Commission to enforce those provisions.” (“Breitzer”) At this time racism was still brewing. All over Southern United States black students entering public schools were being harassed and discriminated against by distrusting white folk. This kind of racism can be seen throughout the movie. One of the most obvious cases occurs when a white offensive lineman purposely lets a defender by to sack his black teammate.
Although exaggerated and somewhat fictional, I believe Remember The Titans would be an appropriate movie to be shown in a college history class, especially if the historical fiction was foreshadowed upon the class. The film reveals the cold racism and segregation that occurred within the 1940’s throughout the 1970’s, even though the racial tension wasn’t factual in this case.
Remember The Titans is an intriguing film that follows the 1971 T.C. Williams Titans become a racial unifying symbol for a small town community. The movie is a visual rollercoaster that will manufacture a smile on your face and create tears that roll down your cheeks. As with any Hollywood film that is “based on a true story,” the plot contains a lot of fiction; however, the main story line in this movie is grounded in truth.