Seabiscuit is on a roll

Aug. 8, 2003, midnight | By Anthony Glynn | 20 years, 8 months ago

A small, limping racehorse; a large, half blind jockey; an old, loner horse trainer; a heartbroken father – all on a quest for another chance in life. Seabiscuit is an uplifting tale of hope and glory during some of the darkest days in American history.

A young boy, Johnny "Red" Pollard (Tobey Maguire), sets out to become an accomplished jockey after being separated from his family. Unsuccessful, he boxes in his spare time. Soon Red is discovered by Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), a trainer for the millionaire Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges). This trio battles multiple injuries and challenges to get what they have worked so hard for.

Though Seabiscuit is not an action packed thriller, it does keep its audience mesmerized. The film creates a strong bond between the characters and the audience. It also chronicles events that people can relate to, like Red's struggle to remember his long lost family or his anger at being hurt at the most important time of his life.

The audience feels for each character through the touching dialogue. After Smith saves a wounded horse he explains, "You don't throw a whole life away just ‘cause it's banged up a little." Another time Red pumps himself up for a big race saying, "Though he be but little he is fierce," quoting Shakespeare.

Sprinkled throughout Seabiscuit are narrations on the historical context. The foremost is that on the Great Depression, which not only gives informative background on the setting of the film but also details the national mood that the events of the film follow. One clip of America finally getting back on its feet is crosscut with Howard giving an inspirational speech.

Highly acclaimed actors Maguire, Bridges, and Cooper play their parts to perfection. Also joining this cast is a real Hall of Fame Jockey who makes his acting debut as "The Iceman," a world-renowned jockey. These actors make every move powerfully but not overdone.

The whole atmosphere of the film is fantastic, because no detail is overlooked. Everything seems to be authentic to the time period, from the early single passenger cars to the cheap black suits. The scenery of the quiet countryside to the bustling city streets is a genuine portrayal of the growth of this nation.

Every angle is examined to give the audience the full picture. The races in particular have spectacular camera action with front, back, and side-to-side action. The audience gets to be in the seat of the horse next to Red and then a moment later in the bleachers with the spectators.

This film has enough excitement to satisfy anyones action-jones. Red shows the struggle of a boxer in the ring. He also exhibits some fighting on horses that takes the suspense of a good race and gives it some kick.

Maguire in red hair may seem strange but it goes perfectly with the fire in the heart of this movie. Seabiscuit is a family oriented masterpiece.

Seabiscuit, by Universal Pictures, is 140 minutes long, rated PG-13, and now playing everywhere.

Tags: print

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