Good Essays

Year 12 Visual Text: Remember the Titans for Achievement Standard and Unit Standard

Director: Boaz Yakin
Screenwriter: Gregory Allen Howard
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer, Chad Oman
Composer: Trevor Rabin

Director Boaz Yakin's REMEMBER THE TITANS captures the heart of high school football while tackling the sins of its fathers, chronicling the true story of the undefeated 1971 T.C. Williams team of Alexandria, Virginia, which was the first integrated high school team in the state.

The players represent a hotbed of racial tension, but as the team struggle towards unity and gridiron glory, Remember the Titans builds on several subplots and character dynamics to become an inspirational drama.
It tackles the issues of race and bigotry, and does so in a typically blunt and head-on fashion.
The year is 1971, and Alexandria, Virginia is under federal mandate to integrate its schools. This means that the football team--the Titans--will also have to be integrated. In a nod to what I suppose passed for political correctness back then, African-American coach Herman Boone (Washington) is brought in as the new head coach, replacing the popular Coach Yoast (Patton), who is white. Naturally, the white community is outraged by the move, while the black community views Boone as a symbolic leader. Boone himself shares no such illusions; as he tells the adoring crowd, “I’m just a football coach.”
Background to the Film
In the late 1960’s and 70’s, many Americans began to question the ongoing war in Vietnam. Among other things, young people could not understand the unnecessary killing of Vietnamese. In 1970 students at Kent State University protested against the war.
Meanwhile the African-American students were still trying to find ways to bring about equal education opportunities. A case filed by Dr Swann was making its way to the United States Supreme Court.
By April 1971, 11 months after the Kent State shootings, the High Court delivered its judgment to the country. In Swann v’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the now famous case that permitted the bussing of students to achieve racial integration, the High Court sent a message to the country. ALL SCHOOLS HAD TO BECOME INTEGRATED IMMEDIATELY. That included schools in Alexandria, Virginia, a place where football was king.
The type of shots that the director chooses to use shows:
EMOTIONS = close-up
OVER THE SHOULDER CLOSE UP = emotions of characters. Eg. Gary and Julius confronting each other in their room at football camp. What can we see? How does this help viewers to understand the movie’s themes? Explain.

Mid shot of the boy who liked country and western music standing in the doorway to their room to see them fighting.
Another example of an over the shoulder mid-shot is when Pete and Sunshine have their backs to the camera and the restaurant owner is facing them at the centre of the shot. We can see the expression on the restaurant owners face telling the “hippy boy” and the black to go “round the back to the kitchen” if they want some food. We have the black race and the hippy on either side, having to face the racist restaurant owner. The shot is angled very slightly as a low shot. With the angle looking up slightly at the restaurant owner – to give him the dominant position in the action. The camera is taken from the perspective of another member of the team – a black team member – standing behind Pete and Sunshine to see what would happen. Someone who is hanging-back to stay out of trouble.
These can be ESTABLISHING SHOTS eg of the football camp traditional school buildings….What do establishing shots do for viewers?
Another example of a long shot was when Ray or Alan? Was talking to one of the black guys at the beginning of the movie. They are posed on opposite sides of a long traditional walkway. They are trying to find out details of each other’s families. ..”You do have a daddy?...” What does this long pathway represent to the viewer? The long pathway to integration through American tradition?.........What can you think of? How does this long shot with its representation of the opposing sides of the black and white student football-players, help a viewer to understand the directors main ideas or themes?
Camera Angles
Camera angles are used to manipulate perspective. (how the viewer sees things). As an audience we receive messages about shots or scenes by the angles that are used.
High Angle – is often used to make a character look smaller, vulnerable, diminished. (looking down)
Low Angle – is often used to make a character look dominant and over-powering. (looking up).
Example of a Low Angled mid Shot is of Boone and the other coaches standing in the diningroom of the football camp demanding that every footballer will get to know another member of the team from another race. Boone is placed at the centre with Yoast and the assistant coaches placed either side of him. The camera is looking up slightly. This gives the impression that the coaches have “clout” or authority over the boys that are listening to them. The camera’s perspective is taken from that of the boys seated at their dining tables. Why do you think that Boone is at the centre of this mid shot? What is the message to the viewer: about Boone? About the coaches relationship with the boys?
Example of a High Angle shot looking down on the boys after they have re-established their team’s spirit and significant and unique quality. This is in the gym when the team players called a special meeting. They were feeling the pressure of being back in the “real world” of segregation and racism and were finding it all too hard to maintain the team spirit and confidence. Louis Lastic and the Rev call upon the team to remember to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to rise above all these barriers. They start singing gospel music. This is an example of when the directors combine the visual techniques of shot, angles with sound and verbal to bring about a strong message to the viewer. The message being: to Think high…elevate…to a higher force than they are, to overcome the barriers to their success as a racially integrated football team. Gospel and “SOUL POWER” is used to reunite the team while the High Angle shot down on the boys chanting their Titans Chant in a circle in the gym emphasizes this moment.
Verbal Techniques – things that are said and the way that are said.
Close personal interchanges and team talks.
“Now I may be a mean cuss, but I am the same mean cuss to everyone on the football field” Boone talking to Yoast about not going too easy on the black boys because it will only “cripple them”. They need all the strength to stand up to the world that they can.
“Coach, I’m hurt… I aint dead” Gary responding to Yoast saying that he didn’t need to worry himself about what sport he would be able to play in the future. This shows Gary’s perseverance and attitude to life.
“left Side!”
“Strong Side!” Hugely important moment in the movie which shows that both racism have combined through a team.Gary and Julius high five after their side of the field has finally managed to combine. Ray blocked as he should have done and the opposition couldn’t get through. This is the moment that they united.
“You’re hall of fame in my book, coach” This comes from Boone after he had been turned down by the football board to be included in the hall of fame. This shows that their racial differences have been overcome. Yoast had been asked to allow the all white side to win [by cheating] and then he would be voted in. He didn’t do this. He showed too much honesty and integrity.
“Now you start calling this game fair or I’ll go to the papers” is what Yaost told the referee. This close personal interchange shows that Yoast is completely dedicated to the team even though his career will suffer.
“Those ol red necks’ as Sheryl called them, let him down.

Over coming racism - teamwork - friendship.

Teamwork key moments–

The challenge of the team being divided by racism and the racist background of their parents and the community.

Overcoming this teamwork challenge – when the team comes together “left side strong side” ; singing on the bus..

Resolution – victory against other teams.

Key moments for over-coming racism

The challenge – the initial racism of getting on the bus. Blacks at the back and whites at the front. Gary’s statement to Boone before they got on the bus.

Overcoming – “left side strong side”

Resolution – “can’t you see that he’s my brother?”

Key moments for friendship

The challenge – Racial issues including the fight at football camp and school.
- Societal issues including Gary’s girlfriend, Emma and his mum’s attitude towards Julius.

Overcoming the barriers to their friendship – “left side strong side”, Mum meeting Julius and being hugged.

Resolution – Emma meeting Julius on the field before the last game. Mum talking firmly to Julius in the waiting room at the hospital. “he only wants to see you, Julius.” “Can’t you see that he’s my brother.”


The film follows a typical “Emotional Curve” and can be looked at from a “3 Act Structure”.

Most of the time a plot follows this structure:
Act One = setup
Act two = confrontation
Act three = Resolution

The Level of Tension hits the highest point in the middle of Act Three then drops down to the Resolution.
In Remember the Titans the Football Camp has its own Act Three Tension Climax and Resolution.

What is the central moment in the movie?

What happens in the second half of the movie?

Characters Reveal Themes
List the six most important characters.

Some of the character’s stories only make sense if we put them into pairs. What characters “pair-off” most easily?

For each pair write down what we can learn from their story.

Some characters teach the viewer lessons through their own story. Who does this and what is their message?

Denzel Washington is completely convincing as Boone, a proud man thrust into a role he does not want. He has no interest in playing the political race game. As he tells Yoast, “I don’t dance unless I hear music,” and, when he feels that his family is threatened, he does not hesitate to reach for the shotgun. Still, he is nothing if not practical. Though his mission is to make the Titans a winning team (and, in the spirit of true melodrama, the movie makes it clear that if he loses even one game he is out as head coach), he recognizes that in order to do so he must confront the racial tensions present among the players, who are forced to play with members of another race for the first time.
The team travels to football camp, where Boone, with his own brand of tough love, teaches them football as well as racial tolerance. They begin to come together as a team, but must still face the realities of racial politics when they return home.
The movie addresses these realities somewhat gingerly, but at least it does address them. The difference between the movie and real life is that, when the political going gets tough, “Remember the Titans” can always fall back on rooting for the underdog team to win, a strategy that, unfortunately, one can’t use in real life.
There are many effective, and affecting, scenes (in one, a white cop stops one of the black players on the street, and while the kid is understandably worried, it turns out the cop only wants to congratulate him on a good game).
Stalwart character actor Patton does a nice job as Yoast, a hard eyed realist who cannot help but resent the way he was treated.
The ongoing tension between Yoast and Boone provides a subtext throughout the film, mirroring as it does the larger conflicts around them.
The movie is not afraid to portray Boone himself as ambitious and even a little arrogant, thereby avoiding the trap of canonizing him.

Gregory Allen Howard’s solid script frames the issues rather starkly, but then, that may be wholly appropriate for the situation.
Most of the characters are portrayed with a feckless lack of ambiguity; it is pretty easy to identify the good guys and the bad guys (another difference between the movies and real life). But the script does allow for some growth, some change, and some learning, especially among the players. If the real story was half as moving as Howard’s, it must have been quite a time in Alexandria.

As Boone tells the boys, their team has to overcome issues of racism to play well together as a team, a handicap that their opponents do not face. Similarly, “Remember the Titans” has the challenge of confronting its racial issues without being polemical or didactic, while still remaining entertaining . It meets this challenge, and if its tools and techniques for doing so lack subtlety, that’s fine. It is a good, but not great, movie, because it cheats. It has to, I suppose. We accept the young Titans for their sporting abilities, while in truth, it is no more acceptable to judge a person by his athletic talent than by his skin color.
If combating racism were as easy as smacking helmets with your teammate, the world would be a better place.
The film follows the trials and tribulations that each coach goes through in their efforts to peacefully coexist while trying to build a winning football team.

The players on the team come both races-meaning that they also have trouble getting along with each other-but the coaches involve the athletes in activities that end up providing the funny moments in the film.
One of the boys annoys another by playing country music, which the second boy considers pure torture. Another equally funny scene occurs between the two sides and involves a round of jokes about each other’s mothers having sex with them the previous night.

Denzel Washington brings his ever-powerful presence to the role of coach Herman Boone, who is brought in to oversee the transition to integration. Though Boone is eventually successful as a coach, the townspeople disapprove of him because he replaces the popular, entrenched former coach, Bill Yoast (Will Patton). At first, coach Yoast resents being supplanted, while Coach Boone is told that his promotion was just for show--to help the integration--and that he's likely to be lifted if the team loses a game.

Will the coaches and players be able to overcome their adversity and make T.C. Williams a beacon for integration in sports?

REMEMBER THE TITANS portrays the story and delivers the inspirational result with a passion and glory.

"...REMEMBER THE TITANS isn't afraid to handle chunky, powerful issues in a chunky, powerful way..." -- 4 out of 5 stars -- Ceri Thomas, Total Film
"...A shrewd, pulpy crowd-pleaser. Engagingly cast, with a lively soundtrack and glossy cinematography, … Turan, Los Angeles Times
"...There are true and touching moments in the film, on top of its undeniable entertainment value....The movie is heartfelt..." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"...Mr. Washington and Mr. Patton are strong, complex [presences]...You'll [find] a lump in your throat and an overwhelming urge to cheer." -- A. O. Scott, New York Times
"...Admirable, crowd-pleasing....[The film] has brawn, but it also has brains..."--3 out of 4 stars -- Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today
Set in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971, the fact-based story begins with the integration of black and white students at T C Williams High School. The effort to improve race relations is most keenly felt on the school's football team, the Titans, and bigoted tempers flare when a black head coach (Washington) is appointed and his victorious predecessor (Will Patton) reluctantly stays on as his assistant.
It's affirmative action at its most volatile, complicated by the mandate that the coach will be fired if he loses a single game in the Titans' 13-game season.
1. Identify examples of the following production techniques. Comment on their effect / suggest reasons for their use:

a. CU
b. VO (voice over)
c. aural bridge
d. POV shot
e. juxtaposition
f. back lighting
g. contrast
h. parallels
i. PAN
k. ELS
l. slow ZOOM

RULE NUMBER ONE -In overcoming racism/differences.

Get to know each member of the team.
Help each of the team members to know each other.
Treat everyone the same.
Teach respect.
Teach tolerance.
Model what you want.

RULE NUMBER TWO -In overcoming racism/differences.

Interdependence must be worked at.
Community does not just happen. It is developed.
Teamwork is learned.
Each person is necessary for the whole.
Coach the team.
Discipline the team.
Work the team.

RULE NUMBER THREE -In overcoming racism/differences.

The goal is about winning.
And winning is not about first place.
Winning is about the establishment of a level playing field for all players.
Winning is about achieving effective teamwork -true community.