What if I told you there was a movie starring Denzel and a host of other up-and-coming stars, that also had an amazing soundtrack and was about football? Does that sound like something you might be interested in? I thought so. Let’s open up the vault and take a minute to appreciate Remember the Titans, a true story about football and race in the American south.
This movie show us some classic Denzel Washington. Goddamn, is this man smooth or what? But he can also give ya the business too if you get out of line! It may not have some of the memorable quotes that we in got in Training Day just two short years later, but he has got some serious attitude. And it plays great. Denzel stars as coach Herman Boone, a real life person who was hired to take over the football program at T.C. Williams High School in 1971. In addition to being the first African American head coach, it just so happens that he is taking over for a man named Bill Yoast (Will Patton), who is a legend in Virginia High School football. This obviously causes a stir, but Yoast decides to accept the position of defensive coordinator under Boone, after his white players say they will not play for Boone without him.
The entire team quickly realizes that coach Boone is a no-nonsense kind of coach who is going to drill his team until they reach perfection or the point of illness, sometimes both. Training camp under Boone is brutal and he breaks down his black and white players so that he can build them back up as a single team. Denzel provides some inspirational speeches, teaching his team to respect one another regardless of race and to judge people on the basis of their character.
All Star Roster
Remember the Titans features quite the cast of other players. In addition to Denzel (my man!) and Will Patton, we’ve got one of my personal favorites, Wood Harris who plays defensive end, Julius Campbell. Harris is perhaps most well known for playing Avon Barksdale in HBO’s The Wire. This dude kills it and, besides Denzel, his relationship with all star linebacker Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) is a focal point of the entire film. They go from all out race war to brothers in arms during the course of the season and it’s their combined leadership that elevates the Titans to greatness.
We also get a very skinny, baby-faced Ryan Gosling in this film. He plays linebacker Alan Bosley, who continually gets burned in coverage. When coach Yoast pulls him from the game and replaces him with that guy who played Turk on Scrubs (Donald Faison), he takes it like a champ, but his fat asshole of a dad begins yelling at the coaches from the stands. In comes a very young Hayden Panettiere, who plays Patton’s daughter/football wizkid to put that jerk in his place and tell him that his son sucks. This movie even gives us a Kate Bosworth appearance or two, to cap off this who’s who of turn of the century young stars.
As far as football movies go, I consider Remember the Titans to be one of the better ones. It’s still not all that great, but most football movies aren’t very good. One reason that you should definitely tune in to this film though, is the soundtrack. Top to bottom, this movie is filled with hits and it uses the music to put you in the moment. When the Marvin Gaye kicks in immediately following this moment of cultural exchange, you know that the team is going to be alright. Check it out for yourself.
Marvin Gaye, War, Cat Stevens and Ike & Tina Turner are just a few of the hitmakers to grace this soundtrack. If it wasn’t for the music, I would not be such a fan of this movie but the fact of the matter is that it really ties the whole thing together. The music in this movie invokes feelings of joy, pride and sadness. If it doesn’t make you a fan then you probably have no soul.
That’s it for this trip into the SBS Film Vault. Remember the Titans is a high school football classic that shows us that racial prejudice is only a construct of a racist society. If we all take the time to shed our ignorance and hate, see people for who they are instead of who we believe they are, and groove out to some hit tunes while playing some football, we can end racial hatred for good.