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Brian's Song (2001)

The story of professional football players Gale Sayes and Brian Piccolo, and how their friendship on and off the field was affected when Piccolo contracted a fatal disease.



(book), (book) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeff Ironi ...
Dick Butkus
Bill Filbert
Bruce Gooch ...
Craig Eldridge ...
Doctor Beattie
Michael Millar ...
Doctor Fox
Doctor O'Conner
Erika Cohen ...


American football players Brian Piccolo, of Italian descent with the gift of the gab, and Gale Sayers, black and a social cripple, both join the Chicago Bears. They don't get along, but coach's plan to mix races as roomies forces them to do so. When Gale is about to give up with a knee injury, Brian kicks and helps him till he gets back, and they become friends. Just when Brian gets off the bench in a new position, he's diagnosed with embryonal carcinoma, and when that's cured other dangerous cancers: his career is over, and his life a painful struggle for survival at best... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Greatest Victories In Life Don't Always Happen On The Field.


Drama | Sport


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Release Date:

2 December 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Brajanova pesma  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie shows the Bears playing the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta during the 1965 season but the Falcons didn't start playing until 1966. See more »


Remake of Brian's Song (1971) See more »


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User Reviews

Pointless remake
4 March 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When I saw the original Brian's Song film from 1971 with Billy Dee Williams and James Caan, I was entertained and very moved. I didn't see how they could have done a better job with a story like this. As it turns out, I was right, but I never thought it would be a portent of things to come. Remaking a masterpiece like the original begs the question, as Roger Ebert once said "Why are they remaking the good movies? Why not remake the bad ones?" This film is definitely a case in point.

This version is, in a word, terrible. The writing is extremely bad, the acting is awful, and the scenes are dramatically shapeless. Most notably, the film was overtly miscast. The 1971 film was honest, but appropriate about the racial issues at the time, the remake is much too delicate and only seems worried about being politically correct and inoffensive. Sorry, but that doesn't make a realistic portrayal of the time period that this film is trying to illustrate.

In the original, James Caan played Brian Piccolo as a likable, fun-loving, nice, loose guy with a good sense of humor and who loved life. Sean Maher's performance is a disgrace. In his performance, he makes Piccolo look like an annoying, ill-mannered, judgmental jerk. Mekhi Phifer is almost as bad as Gale Sayers, who makes him look like an on screen version of Deion Sanders. As the players in the movie put it, he does indeed come across as "uppity," flashy, and seemingly avoiding contact with others because he thinks he's better than they are, not because he's shy. Billy Dee Williams played Gale Sayers as the man he truly was: a quiet, unprepossessing, gentlemanly, shy type who simply felt awkward around people because he had trouble relating to them. I would've liked to have seen actors with personalities more similar to the characters portray these two players: like Rob Brown as Gale Sayers, and James Vanderbeek as Brian Piccolo.

The coaches are portrayed as stiff, businesslike men with no affability, personality, or compassion for the players. Ben Gazzara is totally unconvincing as George Halas, and looks and speaks more like a priest than a pro football coach. The dialogue is truly insulting because it spells out what we already know about the players. Most of the time, the characters sound like actors reciting their lines and forcing information on the audience, instead of people who are speaking conversationally and expressing their true feelings.

When Joy Piccolo says to Brian, after seeing Gale's acceptance speech for his rookie of the year award, "He's not arrogant, he's shy," it's useless information we already know. Another example: when Brian and Gale are running together to help rehabilitate Gale's injured knee, they're both expressing their worries, strengths, and weaknesses, most notably Gale's anxiety about life after football, and Brian's aspirations about when he'll actually be able to make his contribution to the team. These things were wisely never expressed in conversation in the original because the writing was intelligent enough to allow the audience to figure it out for themselves, without unnecessary discussion. Good films never use dialogue when they don't need to.

Finally, the beautiful instrumental musical version of the song "The Hands of Time" elevated the mood and poignancy of the first movie, which the remake could've used more often. Why didn't they use the music again in more of this movie? This is an example of how music can magnify the illustration of a scene and ultimately enhance a story.

This movie left a lot to be desired for, but a story as good as the first one needn't have been remade in the first place. I would recommend the 1971 film as a true timeless classic and one of the best sports movies of all time. The remake was just a bad idea that should have never happened.

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