The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
It's the Depression, and everyone needs to hold onto a dream to get them through the bad times. Car maker Charles Howard is no different, he who is trying to rebuild his life after the tragic death of his only child and the resulting end of his first marriage. With second wife Marcela at his side, Charles wants to get into horse racing and ends up with a team of underdogs who are also chasing their own dream. The first is trainer Tom Smith, who has a natural instinct to spot the capabilities of horses. The second is the horse Tom chooses for Charles, Seabiscuit, an unconventional choice as despite his pedigreed lineage, Seabiscuit is small at fifteen and a half hands tall with a slight limp. But Tom can see something in Seabiscuit's nature to make him a winner, if only Seabiscuit can be retrained from his inbred losing ways. And third is the jockey they decide to hire, Johnny "Red" Pollard, so nicknamed because of his hair color. Like Tom, Red has always shown a natural way with ...Written by
Chris Cooper had to be aged for his character to look the part. Because he was over 25 years younger than his character, Cooper's hair was whitened and his hairline was shaved back to show a widow's peak hairline. Cooper, despite being two years younger than Jeff Bridges, was made to appear older in contrast. See more »
Late in the film, as Charles Howard worries in the bleachers about letting Red Pollard ride in the race, his wife Marcella plays with the marble game. She keeps talking in the next shot, but her lips (at the top of frame) don't move as the audio finishes. See more »
It wears its sentimental heart firmly on its fetlock.
As the depression era kicks in, Americans were grasping for any sort of inspiration they could get, enter equine supreme, Seabiscuit. Considered broken down, too small and untrainable, Seabiscuit went on to become a bastion of great racehorses and in the process bringing solace to those closest to it.
Back in 2003 upon its initial release, critics were very divided as to the merits of Seabiscuit as a picture. Some were concerned that this adaptation from Laura Hillenbrand's highly thought of novel missed too many crucial elements, others were merely touting the tired old charge of the film purely baiting Oscar (something that is levelled at every film in history about hope and second chances), the more astute critics of the time however lauded it as the delightful and inspiring piece that it is.
It would be churlish of me to not agree that Seabiscuit is laced with sentiment, rookie director Gary Ross barely wastes a chance to tug the heart strings and paint an evocative sequence, but if you have got it in you to accept this true story for its base emotional point, then it is one hell of a wonderful experience. Seabiscuit is not just about the equine beauty of the picture, it's also a fusion of three men's personal wavering, who for one reason or another need the horse for far more important crutches than those provided by financial gain, make no bones about it, Seabiscuit is a very human drama. Knowing how the picture will end never once becomes a problem, because the historical accuracy in the story makes one yearn for that grandiose ending, one to gladden the heart in the way it must have done to thousands upon thousands of Americans back in the depression era day.
Ross wisely chooses to filter in as much realism as he possibly can, archive stills and narration serve as exceptional points of worth to the narrative structure. Then there is the first rate cast to fully form the emotional complexities that Seabiscuit provides. Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire (waif like), Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, top American jockey Gary Stevens and a splendidly jaunty William H Macy, all can rightly feel proud of their respective work on this picture. Yet it's with the thundering race sequences that Seabiscuit really triumphs best, magnificent beasts hurtling around the race track are excellently handled by Ross and his cinematographer, John Schwartzman, whilst a nod of approval must go to the sound department's efforts, for this is definitely one to give your sub-woofer a work out.
Seabiscuit was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning none, perhaps the Academy also felt like those critics who thought it was trying too hard for a Golden Statue? But now after the dust has settled some years later, it pays to revisit Seabiscuit and judge it on its own emotional terms, for it's a tremendously well crafted picture that is of course as inspirational as it most assuredly is tender, a fine fine picture indeed. 9/10
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