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Remember the Titans Essay

‘I was afraid of you, Julius. I don’t see what I was afraid of. Now I see I was only hating my brother’. This quote Gerry made towards Julius, illustrates how the characters in the movie were afraid of change, and that it is possible to overcome that fear. This quote is important, especially in the movie, because it sets an example that change is necessary and possible.

The characters in ‘Remember the Titans’ are forced to face many issues that revolve around change and dealing with racism. An example being that a divided team due to the different skin colours are forced to play together, in Alexandra, Virginia which had a very high level of racial tension and prejudice during the movie. “Remember the Titans’ is about a local high school football team overcoming racism, prejudice and discrimination towards each other and the community, all while participating in a football season. The film views the struggles of being black in a white society that is trying to manage the integration that has been forced upon them and the struggle of being white in a time of racial change and being forced to alter their attitudes and beliefs about blacks.

Many people overcame a change during this movie. Gerry, being the main character undergoes the most change and life-changing events. Gerry changes his opinions towards ‘black’ Americans becoming very close to Julius, who is often referred to as his brother. Gerry also lost the ability to use his legs, thus having to overcome that grief/despair and look for a new path for his life to take. As team leader Gerry had to look inside himself to change his perspective on life and people very early in the movie, as he had to set an example for the rest of his teammates. Coach Boone undergoes many changes, as at the end of the movie Coach Boon had become less haughty and proud. He also ended up being respected by the other ‘white’ coaches. During the film you see many other characters go through a change in perspective and a change in self. Gerry’s mother, Julius, Petey, Jerry, Louie, Sunshine, and Sheryl all change their outlook on life.

The themes explored in ‘Remember the Titans’ are strength, unity, courage, brotherhood, pride, trust, over-coming racism, friendship, team bonding, over-coming adversity and change. Each character in the film each had to experience each one of these themes, bettering themselves. Most of the themes occur at once: unity, brotherhood, friendship and team-bonding as most of these occurred either in training or during a game, these themes ultimately happened because each team member wanted to win the season, knowing the only way was to come together and work together as a team. Ultimately this led to having each character overcome the rest of the themes, as it was inevitable.

The director used a wide range of film techniques to shape meaning and understanding. In the first scene, a graveyard in Virginia, there is no racial tension and wide-angle shots are used to show a sense of unity between blacks and whites that stand side by side. This is very important as it helps the viewer to understand that racial tension and discrimination can be over come. At the end of the movie the director also revisits the setting, which helps the audience see closure of the problems shown throughout the movie. One film technique used to help shape understanding of the setting was screen texts. At the very beginning it is shown that the movie is set across two different time periods, 1971 and 1981. In the opening scene (1981) blacks and whites are shown with equal values, no discrimination, but when it flashes to 1971 it shows fighting, protesting and discrimination between the two races. There is clear conflict between the two races.

Throughout the film wide ranges of camera angels were used. The most critical were wide-angled shots as there were used to shoe both segregation and to show unity in the team. In the first half of the movie they are used to show the distance between the two groups, the scene where the coaches are eating at the same table is an example. It shows the whites on one side and the blacks on the other, the characters are distanced as much as possible. The wide-angled shots were also used to show the two groups becoming a team, an example being when they are all at the site where the battle of Gettysburg happened. It helps them to realize how insignificant their problems really are and in this scene the players are standing side by side and not in groups based on colour.

Film techniques such as point-of-view shots, panning, voice over and screen text help the audience see the intense racial tension that existed Alexandra, Virginia at the time. The setting helped the viewers understand how bad the racism and inequality was in the team and the struggles that the players overcame to form a winning team.

Racism in the film is overcome by the efforts and open minds of a few that lead the way for the rest of the team and community. The main focus the movie has is on not only the individual changes taken place, and the changes the team make together, but also the changes that the community make throughout the movie.


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