Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cinderella Man

There are few films that can bring a tear to the eye. "Cinderella Man" is one such tear-jerker. It is a story of James J. Braddock (played by Russell Crowe), a true story of a former heavyweight champion in the 1930s, who fights for a living to feed his family, and maintains integrity in everything he does. Life was hard and he was seen as an inspirational icon to many people at that time who were living in the midst of the Great Depression. As his family depended on his boxing earnings, he continues to fight even though his hand was badly injured. His high-flying lifestyle came to an abrupt halt after his boxing license was revoked due to him competing even though he is physically unfit. Losing that in the midst of the Great Depression is certainly a bad thing. Soon the family had no money to even pay for food and the utility bills. He humbled himself and applied for financial relief. He had to queue up for a daily opportunity to work at the docks for a minimal salary, and works despite his injury.

Tear-Jerker #1
When his wife (played by Renee Zellweger) cried before him to beg him not to fight, yet at the same time worrying about the daily financial needs.

Tear-Jerker #2
When he humbled himself and entered the rich man's club and begged for money to pay back four months of unpaid utility bills so as to bring back light and heating at home.

Tear-Jerker #3
When his wife realised that Braddock at his climactic comeback fight, was fighting not only for his family but for the hope of the entire nation, personifying the importance and reality of a second-chance.

Tear-Jerker #4
Braddock paying back every cent to the relief agency, when he had earned some money from one of his fights along his comeback. When asked why he returned the relief money, he replied:
"I believe we live in a great country. A country that is great enough to help a man financially when he is in trouble. But lately I have had some good fortune and I'm back in the black. And I just thought I should return it."

Tear-Jerker #5
When Braddock's wife entered a church to pray, and said to the priest that she came to pray for her husband. Then in a very touching manner, the priest said to her, "So did they", and pointed her to a church sanctuary full of people praying for her husband. That is the power of hope, that draws people together.

This movie is a wonderful inspiration of courage, family love and integrity. A great man must be one who is not only bold and courageous but humble and with integrity. Personally, I feel this movie is a reminder of the importance of inspiration, especially in the midst of depression. Our human nature naturally draws us towards a state of loneliness and we need to be able to adequately address that and not to allow our feelings of loneliness to degenerate to depression. Braddock's willingness to be humble despite the ridiculous taunting by his ultimate opponent, Max Baer, is something we can all learn from. When Braddock's wife Mae, splashed a glass of champagne on Max Baer after Baer's nasty taunting on Braddock's family, Max said "Now he's got his wife doing his fighting for him.", in an apparent jab at Braddock. Braddock calmly replied: "Yeah, Ain't she something?" reveals a man who is humble and controlled, not wanting to be easily antagonized. We need to learn to grow such a heart. True strength is not fighting back with fists. It is fighting back with a heart.

The climax of the show is Braddock's amazing comeback. It is one thing to be fighting only for family. It becomes another, when one fights symbolically for the hope of the whole nation.


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