Reviewing the soul of Remember the Titans

As a fan of both football and movies, it may come as a surprise when I say that prior to a couple of days ago, I had never seen Remember the Titans.  When I was coming up with the list of movies that I wanted to watch over the increasingly long quarantine, Remember the Titans was one of the first movies to come to mind, as I had always wanted to watch it, but I simply could never find the time to do so.  

Directed by Boaz Yakin, Remember the Titans is based on a true story, in which a Virginia high school has to integrate white and black students both in the classroom and on the football field.  The film takes us through the various events that both tear the team apart and bring them together not just as teammates, but as brothers.  We get to see what it was like for white and black teenagers to learn to get along with each other back in 1971, despite their differences.  As you might expect, things are extremely rocky in the beginning, like when players wouldn’t block for a teammate of the opposite skin color, or when a fight broke out over a Malcolm X poster being hung up in a dorm room.

Eventually, the entire team puts their differences aside to come together as a team, a brotherhood, and a family.  They stick up for each other when others are picked on for their race, they dance together in a pregame ritual, and they help each other become the best player that they can possibly be.  Although their fellow classmates not on the football team don’t have the same views that the players do, it’s incredibly heartwarming to see the relationships the team formed with each other, especially when you remember that this film is based on true events.

Along with the players, there was racial tension on the coaching side of the team, as well.  Coach Bill Yoast, played by Will Patton, had a lengthy tenure as head coach of the Titans, but that came to an end once the racial integration began.  He was replaced by Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington.  Initially, Yoast was vehemently against the idea of being an assistant coach to Boone, but under the agreement that he would keep one of his own long-time assistant coaches on the team with him, Yoast decided to allow Boone to coach the offense, while he would coach the defense.

The relationship between Yoast and Boone was one of my favorite parts of Remember the Titans.  While coach Boone would push the players as hard as possible, even to the point of humiliation, coach Yoast would then pull the scolded players aside and reassure them, all while maintaining his dignity and respect as a coach and a leader.  Despite the stark contrast between the two, they ultimately came together just like the rest of the team.  Yoast even sacrificed his chance at being inducted into the hall of fame when he fought back against an effort to rig the region championship game the Titans were playing in.  That alone shows just how much every person who was a part of the Titans cared about their season, their brothers, and their team.

Remember the Titans also has a phenomenal soundtrack, featuring many songs that do an excellent job at further emphasizing the era the movie takes place in.  “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough,” “Express Yourself,” “Fire and Rain,” and “House of the Rising Sun” are just four of the 26 songs featured throughout the film, and each of them fit perfectly with the scenes they’re used in.  Additionally, this movie has plenty of memorable speeches given by both the coaches and players that do a terrific job of both motivating the characters and emphasizing certain themes to the audience.

Overall, Remember the Titans is a fantastic film that teaches us the importance of unity and brotherhood, regardless of race or any differences we may have.  The fact that this movie is able to teach so many valuable lessons, all while staying mostly true to the events it’s based on is astonishing, in my opinion.  Speaking of the lessons, the world could still learn a thing or two from Remember the Titans today, nearly 50 years after its events took place.  I would confidently recommend this film to anyone with 2 hours of free time on their hands, regardless of how much you like sports or football.  It doesn’t take any knowledge of football to enjoy this movie and understand the messages it aims to send to the audience.  If you do watch this movie, I can assure you that you will remember forever the night you watched Remember the Titans.