Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.
Helena Bonham Carter
Housewife and mother Penny Chenery agrees to take over her ailing father's Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge. Against all odds, Chenery -- with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin -- manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in twenty-five years. Written by
Diane Lane called the blond wig that she wore "Peaches." The hairstyle was modeled after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and pictures of the former First Lady were tacked up all over the makeup trailer. See more »
During the Belmont race, the long shots show Secretariat alone increasing his lead, yet, on a couple of close-ups another horse can be seen running next to him. See more »
"It is beautiful to watch a fine horse gallop, the long stride, the rush of the wind as he passesmy heart beats quicker to the thud of the hoofs and I feel his strength." Richard Jefferies
Secretariat is no exception. It's the story of the fastest horse in history, first known as Big Red, who went on to win horse racing's triple crown on 1973, a feat not accomplished in 25 years. After that he sired 600 foals, much to the delight of his investors, the first to invest solely in a stud future.
But then I love Seabiscuit (2003) for it depression-era cheerleading. This is what American filmmakers do well--a rouser with messages, bigscreen chases, and sentimentality for the little guy. Seabiscuit is Rocky for horses, a suspenseful crowd pleaser with characters such as the whisperer played by Chris Cooper, who said, "You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little." The thought resonates for almost everyone in the film, a tribute to unity of theme and expression of actor.
Similarly there's more than just a racing film in Secretariat; after all National Velvet has a more interesting story and a younger heroine in Elizabeth Taylor, but that was decades ago. This true story is about the grit of Penny Chenery, who took over Virginia's Meadow Stables from her father and beat the male-dominated odds.
This quintessential Disney movie depicts her as tough and loving, a mother and a businesswoman, who can serve as a model for young women aspiring to reach great goals even in this liberated 21st century, which still has a ways to go before it expunges fully the sexism scourge.
The photography is bracing, often putting the camera right by the prancing hoofs or mid-level close to the steed's haunches. Although nothing new here, it is still exciting fare. Because we all know going in that our horse will win the crown, director Randall Wallace is especially successful in keeping us interested and worried for Secretariat.
Disclosure: I like most Hollywood horse-racing stories.
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