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Express, The (2008)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Thematic content, violence and language involving racism, and for brief sensuality
Dennis Quaid, Rob Brown, Omar Benson Miller, Clancy Brown, Charles S. Dutton
Express, The (2008)
Based on a true story, "The Express" follows the extraordinary life of college football hero Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. His fight for equality and respect forever changed the face of American sports, and his story continues to inspire new generations.
Express, The (2008) | Review
What Are You Playing For?
"Not matter what anyone tells you, you aren't here just to play football," Coach Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid) tells Ernie (Rob Brown) soon after he begins playing college ball for the Syracuse Orangemen. "Don't just be the best Negro running back, be the best running back," Ernie tells Floyd Little (Chadwick Boseman), the running back poised to pick up where he is leaving off. "Football is just a game; what matters is what you play for," Ernie says upon his retirement. And in the much the same way, while the movie is about college football and African American civil rights, its story is one that also presents a universal message about the potential in every person, the right we all have to live out that potential, and the inspiration we can each be when we live it out for something greater than just ourselves.
Toward the beginning of the movie Ernie's family gathers around the dinner table while Ernie reads from 1 Corinthians 15:10: "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." He is just a young boy, and as he reads he stutters to make the words come out. Just prior to that scene, we have seen him chased away from turf on which "his color" is not allowed. But in this verse, he is told that he is not who he is by accident, who he is was brought into being with effort and purpose, and that effort and purpose were not in vain. He may not be perfect, like anyone else he will have weaknesses, but in him is a member of society just as valuable as anyone else and an individual uniquely important to the world in which he lives for the talents, abilities, and opportunities that only he has.
From his childhood dinner table to the Orangemen's playing fields, Ernie matures from young boy to grown man. Although he is only a freshman, Ernie may very easily be the best player on the team. But although his skills as a football player are widely recognized and no effort was spared to get him to sign with the Orangemen, Ernie still faces a reality in which he is deemed inferior because of his skin color. "There are some lines that some people don't care to see crossed," Coach Schwartzwalder tells him. And unfortunately, even on the football field, those lines essentially deny Ernie ownership of his own accomplishments.
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