September 29, 2000 – The Theatrical Feature Remember the Titans is Released to Theaters
“I don’t scratch my head unless it itches, and I don’t dance unless I hear some music; I will not be intimidated.”
On September 29, 2000, the theatrical feature film Remember the Titans was released to theaters. Based on the true story of the 1971 T.C. William Titans football team, the film tells the story of Coach Herman Boone and the struggles he faces as head coach, as well his dealings with Coach Bill Yoast, as they both try to direct the team during the time of racial turmoil in Alexandria, Virginia. The film was a joint production between Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. The screenplay was written by Gregory Allen Howard, with the film being directed by Boaz Yakin, and starring Denzel Washington as Coach Boone, Will Patton as Coach Yoast, Wood Harris as Julius Campbell, Ryan Hurst as Gerry Bertier, and Hayden Panettiere as Sheryl Yoast.
The movie opens at a funeral in Alexandria, Virginia, 1981. The narrator talks about her father coaching in Virginia, where football is considered bigger than Christmas. The film then goes back to July, 1971, just after schools in Virginia were integrated, with crowds of angry people in front of a store where a white store owner killed a black teenager. Some teenagers are seen playing football, when another student arrives and alerts them about the shooting. Their coach, Bill Yoast, luckily is able to stop them before they get caught up in the fighting. As they arrive back at the school, they are surprised to see Herman Boone, the new assistant coach, in Yoast’s office. After some tense words, Boone reassures Yoast that he comes with one purpose: to win.
The announcement comes soon after: Boone has been placed into the head coaching position by the school board. Boone is against the decision, as he left his position in North Carolina for being passed over due to race, and is against doing the same thing to someone else. Boone goes to Yoast’s house to offer him an assistant coaching position, but Yoast turns it down. He changes his mind when he realizes that the kids he coaches are putting their scholarships on the line.
The students go to football camp at Gettysburg College, with former team captain Gerry Bertier clashing not only with Coach Boone, but particularly with other player Julius Campbell. Boone is constantly making the two teams work together, forcing them to work together as one team. After a run to Gettysburg Battlefield, the two teams slowly begin to work together, with Julius and Gerry beginning to become friends. Unfortunately, when they get back home to Alexandria, the racial tensions they left behind are there to meet them, threatening to tear apart their newly formed team friendships. There’s more news for Boone as well: the moment he loses a game, he will be fired.
After a nearly disastrous first game, the Titans go on to a great winning streak, with the town slowly coming around to support the team. Although Gerry becomes good friends with Julius, his friends and family don’t share his viewpoint. Yoast is also having problems with the people in his life; his friend Coach Tyrell deserts him when Yoast continues to work with Boone, and when his daughter spends time at the Boone’s house, a brick is thrown through the window, which causes Yoast much concern and highlights the tensions between the two coaches. Yoast is put to the test when his nomination to the Hall of Fame is on the line: he will only stay a nominee if he helps throw the next game. In the end, he tells the referees that he knows they’re helping to throw the game, and refuses to contribute any more to the scheme. This loses him the Hall of Fame, but Yoast believes he’s gained something more.
After this game, Gerry is in a terrible car accident during the celebrations, and everyone rushes to the hospital. He becomes paralyzed from the waist down from his injuries, and will only speak to Julius. Julius promises that Gerry will pull through this, and they’ll grow old and fat in the same neighborhood, where race will no longer be an issue. Although Yoast believes that the team should take a break, Gerry refuses to let that happen, saying, “I’m hurt. I ain’t dead.” He then suggests to Yoast about entering the Wheelchair Games.
The final showdown is between the Titans and Coach Ed Henry for the state title. Not only is the team finally working together, but Yoast comes to the realization that he and Boone can work together, as does Boone. With one final play between the two, the Titans win the game and the state championship. Yoast’s daughter Sheryl continues her narration from the beginning of the film, saying that the Titans had a perfect season, going on to become the 2nd best high school team in the country. Gerry also won a gold medal in shotput in the Wheelchair Games, with coaching from Yoast. 10 years later, he passed away, which brings the audience back to the funeral from the beginning of the film. The film concludes with updates on many of the players, and includes Boone and Yoast, who “became good friends, and they continue that friendship today.”