Miracle, Herb Brooks works to prove that his coaching methods work,
and seeks redemption for being cut from the 1960 Olympic hockey
team. Remember the Titans follows Coach Boone as he sets out to prove
to the community that the administration made the correct choice when
he replaced the well-liked former head coach. Freedom Writers takes a
slightly different approach, but Ms. Gruwell (Hilary Swank) must prove
that she can reach the “unreachable” and bring a classroom of enemies
together. Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman), in Lean on Me, must prove that
he can get his students to pass the state test despite widespread
disapproval amongst parents and other administrators.
Another plot similarity is that the students/players hearing the
speeches are at some kind of disadvantage or are considered to be
“underdogs.” In Remember the Titans, the team is at a disadvantage due
to internal fighting and lack of team unity due to racial tensions. In
Miracle, the college kids that make up the United States Olympic hockey
team are clearly the underdogs and their practices to take on the older,
more professional Soviet team are plagued by infighting and lack of
team unity. In both Lean on Me and Freedom Writers, the students attend
a poorly funded school and society at large has no expectation for them
to graduate or succeed beyond high school. Because of this, they are
considered underdogs as they tackle their individual academic
challenges.
These movies also have some form of social or cultural layer to
them. This can be very obvious, such as racial tensions on the football
team in Remember the Titans mirroring tensions all across America during
that time period. This theme also crops up in a number of teacher
movies, but one of the most striking examples is in Freedom Writers,
where gang wars and tensions outside the classroom begin to leak into
class discussion. Lean on Me also has a race and social element to it, as
the students attending the school are poor and are therefore not
expected to do well in their schoolwork. The social and cultural
component to Miracle is a little different; the 1980 Olympic Games took
place in the shadow of the Cold War with tension between the Soviet
Union and United States at its peak.
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