Secretariat (2010)

Secretariat (2010)  Shortly after the theatrical release of this film I noticed a blog post by Roger Ebert entitled “Secretariat was not a Christian.”  It’s not a comment of fact or his opinion, but it’s a scathing rebuke of Andrew O’Hehir’s outlandish review of the movie, entitled: “Secretariat”: A gorgeous, creepy American myth.

I’ve read both, and I think Ebert hit the nail on the head.  O’Hehir must have been smoking something (that’s legal for medicinal purposes in a few states) when he saw the movie and wrote the review.  His conclusions seem rather absurd to me.  How could he watch that movie and describe it as “…a Tea Party-flavored, Christian-friendly yarn about one big horse and our nation’s past.”

In my mind it was a pretty straight forward movie about the greatest racehorse that ever lived.  Plenty of movies take place in times of political unrest but just stick to the story.  I guess O’Hehir disagrees.  Here’s what he says:  “The year Secretariat won the Triple Crown was the year the Vietnam War ended and the Watergate hearings began. You could hardly pick a period in post-Civil War American history more plagued by chaos and division and general insanity…”  He goes on to say: “Wallace (the director) references that social context in the most glancing and dismissive manner possible…”  Well, the bulk of The Natural (1984) takes place in 1939…the year Germany invaded Poland, World War II started, and the Nazis began rounding up the Jews.  Yet somehow the movie that was based on a novel by Bernard Malamud, a Jew, doesn’t even mention it.  WTF?

If you want to complain about anything, point out the inaccuracies in the movie.  Steve Haskin did in an article he wrote entitled Big Red on the Big Screen, but even he wrote:  “If [the people who see it] walk out of the theater feeling good and being awed by the greatness of Secretariat and the almost mythical persona he still possesses, then the movie will have succeeded.”  Interestingly, I found this article because O’Hehir has a link to it in his film review.  One thing, though, I do feel that the use of gospel music at important points in the movie was odd, but not enough on which to support a conspiracy theory.

As for my opinion of the movie, I liked it.   It was well acted, and the directing and cinematography were spectacular.  The filming of the races was done in a manner, including many close-ups, that created as sense of tension and the feeling of with being right there with the horses as they rounded the turns.  I was in my 20’s when this race took place and I was well aware of it, yet even though I knew exactly how it would end, the point at which Secretariat crossed the finish line at The Belmont Stakes was emotionally exhilarating.

I didn’t love everything about this movie, but I highly recommend it.  It’ll have you smiling and maybe even put a tear in your eyes.


Please leave a comment.  I’d love to know what you think.

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