In November, 1970, virtually the entire football team and coaches of Marshall University (Huntington, W.V.) die in a plane crash. That spring, led by Nate Ruffin, a player who was ill and missed the fatal flight, students rally to convince the board of governors to play the 1971 season. The college president, Don Dedman, must find a coach, who then must find players. They petition the NCAA to allow freshmen to play, and coach Jack Lengyel motivates and leads young players at the same time that he reexamines the Lombardi creed that winning is the only thing. The father and the fiancée of a player who died find strength to move on. Can Marshall win even one game in 1971?Written by
I saw this film on November 21st, 2006 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture " explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.
This film is based on a true and tragic story. On November 14th, 1970, the Marshall University football team, football coaches, athletic staff, key alumni, and friends were flying home to Huntington, West Virginia after an away game against East Carolina. Their plane crashed killing all seventy five (75) aboard.
How do a University and a small town of 50,000 people respond to a massive tragedy that affected so many students and town residents? This movie is about their struggle to come to grips with that tragedy.
Without bitter rancor and with humility, some felt the University should start up a new football team and persevere through a long rebuilding process to honor the dead. Others, again without rancor and with humility, believed that starting up a football team would be too painful a reminder of the tragedy.
It was decided to start a new football team immediately and play the next season in 1971. This movie is primarily about the difficulties of the development of the team.
Matthew McConaughey plays the new Head Coach brilliantly and believably. He is a combination of country bumpkin enthusiastic huckster and a wise man. And he does it simply because he believes "Maybe I can help." He displays courage and perseverance and makes sacrifices with a career move that could throw him out of his beloved profession, head football coaching, forever.
The town and University have to quickly break the Vince Lombardi-like notion that you play the game of football for one reason only to win. They learn how you play the game matters, and even simply showing up is a kind of victory too.
This is a compelling story well told and very moving.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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