"We teach our children how to measure, how to weigh, but we fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe, the sense of the sublime, the sign of inward greatness of the human soul," Abraham Joshua Heschel, the great Jewish rabbi, once observed. This inspiring drama written by Gregory Allen Howard and directed by Boaz Yakin (The Price of Rubies) is based on the true story of a Virginia high school football team and the two coaches, one black and one white, who led them during one season to great triumphs both on and off the field. As a team, they learned to practice reverence.
In 1971, Alexandria, Virginia, is a community torn apart by racial hatred and the order to integrate their public high schools through busing. When Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), an African-American from South Carolina, is hired as head coach of the T. C. Williams High School Titans, there is a lot of resentment in the football-crazed community. Bill Yoast (Will Patton), the former head coach, is a white man rumored to be a candidate for the Hall of Fame. He initially decides to take a job at another school, but he changes his mind out of loyalty to the boys he's trained for years. He signs up to work under Boone as a defensive coach. Yoast's biggest supporter in the town is his nine-year-old daughter Sheryl (Hayden Panettiere), an avid football fan.
Boone realizes the hard work that lies ahead when he takes the team to football camp in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There he proves to be a rigid disciplinarian and a moral leader. He forces the whites to stay with black roommates and gives the players the assignment of learning something personal about each and every one of their teammates. Again and again, Boone hammers home the point that they can only win if they work together on the common goal of becoming the best team possible. After leading them on a 3 a.m. romp through the woods to the Gettysburg battlefield, he tells them: "If we don't come together on this hallowed ground, we, too, will be destroyed."
Remember the Titans shows how radical respect or, to use the religious term, reverence is a flinty antidote to the virus of racial hatred and bigotry. In a variety of wonderful scenes, the filmmakers show us how these black and white boys learn to salute the inner greatness of each other's souls. The sport of football becomes a laboratory for racial harmony and common effort. In addition to the stirring performances by Denzel Washington and Will Patton as sterling moral leaders, mention must also be made of Ryan Hurst as Bertier and Wood Harris as Big Ju, two football players whose interracial friendship serves as a galvanizing example for the rest of the Titans.
Special features on the Director's Cut include: four deleted scenes; "Denzel Becomes Boone" Featurette; "Beating The Odds" Featurette; "Remember The Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes," hosted by Lynn Swann.