Near the turn of the twentieth century, young Harry Vardon becomes a champion golfer but learns that his amazing skill is no match for the class boundaries that exclude him from "gentlemanly" English society. A dozen years later, a young American, Francis Ouimet, fights against the same prejudice, as well as his own father's disdain, for a chance to participate in the U.S. Open against his idol -- Harry Vardon. The struggles of both men for acceptance provides the background for an amazing contest of skills. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Going into the fourth round of the 1913 U.S. Open, Ouimet trails Vardon and Ray by one stroke. However, the final leader board shows all 3 shooting 79, with a total of 304 strokes for the tournament. That means all 3 were tied entering the fourth round. See more »
As a recreational golfer with some knowledge of the sport's history, I was pleased with Disney's sensitivity to the issues of class in golf in the early twentieth century. The movie depicted well the psychological battles that Harry Vardon fought within himself, from his childhood trauma of being evicted to his own inability to break that glass ceiling that prevents him from being accepted as an equal in English golf society. Likewise, the young Ouimet goes through his own class struggles, being a mere caddie in the eyes of the upper crust Americans who scoff at his attempts to rise above his standing.
What I loved best, however, is how this theme of class is manifested in the characters of Ouimet's parents. His father is a working-class drone who sees the value of hard work but is intimidated by the upper class; his mother, however, recognizes her son's talent and desire and encourages him to pursue his dream of competing against those who think he is inferior.
Finally, the golf scenes are well photographed. Although the course used in the movie was not the actual site of the historical tournament, the little liberties taken by Disney do not detract from the beauty of the film. There's one little Disney moment at the pool table; otherwise, the viewer does not really think Disney. The ending, as in "Miracle," is not some Disney creation, but one that only human history could have written.
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