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What is the legacy of the movie "Remember the Titans"

20 years after the release of the film, how much has the world of sport changed?

What is the legacy of the movie Remember the Titans 20 years after the release of the film, how much has the world of sport changed?

"Left side. Strong side."

If you do not include part of your life or part of your sporting and cinematographic experience in these words, you have missed a masterpiece. These are the words that sanction the peace between Gerry "Gary" Bertier and Julius Campbell in Boaz Yakin's "Remember the Titans", one of the most transversal Walt Disney films ever. For those unfamiliar with, the plot is based on the true story of the 1971 season of the high school football team T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. A story made up of sport, love and hate, (social) defeats and (sporting) victories, merged into a lesson in democracy that enhances sport as a vehicle for human change.

We won't spoil the whole story, because if you haven't already given up you should fix it as soon as possible - the film is available on Disney + and YouTube. Those who, on the other hand, have seen, consumed and practically memorized the jokes of Gary, coach Boone, Petey, Rev, Julius, Sunshine, Lastik, coach Yoast, Sheryl and Alan, know how much value a film that has changed the perception of sport for many. Boaz Yakin, one of the masters in knowing how to adapt true stories to the big screen, chooses very significant themes and elements: on the one hand, the fight against racial segregation (abolished in Virginia in 1965 but with aftermath that will last for the next 10), on the other hand high school football, which in that portion of the world is equivalent to a lifestyle as well as being one of the main ideological pillars of the nation.

20 years after the release of "Remember the Titans", the world (and consequently the sport) does not seem to have completely freed itself from the evil that fought 50 years ago. The ideas of Denzel Washington and Will Patton - who interpret the two coaches beautifully - still echo today, stronger than ever, as a reminder of the social role of sport, a cultural form superior to society itself and one of the most powerful vehicles for change that exists in the world.

But if there's one thing that makes "Rember the Titans" a special film, it's the script. The dialogues written by Gregory Allen Howard are naturally fictionalized and adapted to the film world - knowing that the speech that coach Boone gives to his boys at the Gettysburg cemetery at the crack of dawn never really happened will break the hearts of many - but in many cases have left their mark. There are four moments in which Howard's work sums up the moral and meaning of the Disney film, all of which can be summarized in four quotes.

"Yeah, this is my sanctuary right here. All this hat red and turmoil swirling around us, but this... this is always right. Struggle. Survival. Victory and defeat. It's just a game, Doc, but... I love it"

Herman Boone knows the biggest challenge for his boys and faces it head on, without losing touch with the sad reality that surrounds the team. He knows that sport is the means by which the young Titans will come true and he knows that sports culture is the best weapon to fight racism. The concept is powerful and simple: what is out must not influence the game, but the game and what it conveys must be able to influence and inspire others. In life there is everything, you lose and win, but love for those who believe in certain values must not be lacking.

"I was afraid of you, Julius. I only saw what I was afraid of. And now I know I was only hating my brother"

After clashing, clarifying their roles and fighting each other for most of the camp, Julius and Gary become friends and overcome the idea that skin color can be an obstacle. When Gary cannot play the decisive games, Julius visits him in the hospital. In a moment of extreme fragility and intimacy, the linebacker admits that he was frightened by the person he now calls "brother" only because he is held back by preconceptions and prejudices, without really knowing him. A great life lesson summed up in two simple sentences. Sport gives the possibility to know and to know means to improve one's ideology.

"People say that it can't work, black and white. Well, here we make it work every day. We have our disagreements, of course. But before we reach for hate, always, always we remember the Titans"

Little Sheryl Yoast, the coach's daughter, who grows up and tells the biggest truth of the whole story. She seems resigned to the idea of a relationship that cannot work, resigned to differences that will always separate two currents of thought. These differences, however, do not exist and above all they cannot turn into hatred. Just the memory, the memory of a past not to be erased but to overturn, to be taken as a starting point to do in a diametrically opposite way. The example of the Titans goes in this direction: remembering their battles, the synergy that has been created beyond the color of the skin within a society that struggles to eliminate racial segregation from the collective imagination.

"Left side, strong side"

Four words for the perfect synthesis of the Titans legacy. Two characters at the beginning of the film so different, so ideologically distant, that they say two identical things in two different forms. In that "Left side, strong side" there is all the change that sport can teach, there are all those contrasts that Sheryl was talking about and all the efforts that only a culture like sports can promote.

Films fall into two categories: those that excite you at the moment and those that leave you with something forever. The Titans, Ronnie Bass and Alan Bosley, Jerry Harris and Louie Lastik, Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell, Herman Boone and Bill Yoast, Petey Jones and Darryl "Blue" Stanton, all have taught us so much and still teach us so much. In a 2015 interview, Denzel Washington - who won two "Best Actor" awards thanks to the Titans - said "I don't think it's a football movie, I think it's a movie about the potential of the human spirit" . This is what sport can be: the exaltation of the human spirit.