Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Movie - Seabiscuit

"You don't throw away a whole life just 'cause he's banged up a little,"

This memorable line sums up the movie. Outwardly, it looks like a movie about a thoroughbred race horse in the early 1900s in the United States. It is actually the brilliance of the director to reflect this theme consistently onto the lives of a jockey, a trainer and a businessman. Sensitively covering the Great Depression, the director skillfully weaves in the rollercoaster of emotions experienced by many people during the 1930s. Red Pollard (Jockey played by Tobey Maguire) had a nasty childhood, and just before he ride Seabiscuit on the race of the century, he had a terrible accident which rendered him unfit for riding. Just when he was about to be 'terminated', the businessman (played by Jeff Bridges) gave him a chance, and kept faith in him and his eventual recovery. The trainer (played by Chris Cooper), was known to give rejected racehorses a second chance, saying to people that one defect does not justify getting rid of the whole animal. The very same attitude was also brought by Red Pollard, who helped nursed Seabiscuit back to recovery after a serious ligament injury. It seems that Seabiscuit was given two second chances, once by the trainer, and the other by the jockey. The businessman, who tragically lost his young son, gave himself a second chance to work for a future that is worth living. The story started very slowly, but once the cameras start to focus on Seabiscuit's rags-to-riches transformation, the movie glides like an eagle. I like the storyline. I learnt that just like it takes a jockey to know the animal in order to win a race, we need to take the time and energy to know the tools of our trade in order to excel in our respective callings. Here I am thinking in terms of my calling as a Christian, how I am wired and what kind of environment I thrive best. Seabiscuit is a racehorse that does not simply lead all the other horses throughout the race. Instead, the strength of the thoroughbred was in its ability to accelerate speedily the moment it sees another horse ahead of it. This powerful 'delayed acceleration' was the Midas touch that defeated the famous "Man O War", like David vs Goliath. But knowing this is not enough. While we may recognize that in life, we may feel we are a little "banged up" here and there, we ought to give ourselves and others a second chance as much as possible, as often as possible. In the process, others will also give us a second chance and in a strange way, known only to God, we will somehow, help one another on the path of healing.

The movie ends with the memorable words: You know everyone thinks we got this broken down horse and fixed him. But we didn't. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess in a way, we fixed each other, too. (Red Pollard the Jockey)


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