Seabiscuit – A Great Underdog Story

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Ever since I saw it, one of my favorite movies has been Seabiscuit. I realize this isn’t a movie that’s at the top of everyone’s list, but the several times that I’ve watched it I’ve found little to dislike. It’s got plenty of intense moments, a well developed plot and characters, and is overall a very exciting movie. Throughout watching the movie you find yourself becoming more and more “invested” in Seabiscuit, wanting him to win each race more and more (I’m actually not sure how anyone can dislike the movie, but feel free to comment below!).

One scene where I especially like the camera work, was when Red (the jockey, played by Tobey Maguire) rides Seabisuit through the country to help him “learn to be a horse again.” The scene is shot in the fall, and it follows the horse through lush green fields with a background filled with the brightly-leaved trees. Another thing I enjoyed about this scene is it’s when it’s realized that Seabiscuit has a lot of talent, and it happens right when Charles (Seabiscuit’s owner, played by Jeff Bridges) and Marcela (Charles’ second wife, played by Elizabeth Banks) have all but given up hope on Seabiscuit.
Youtube clip of the scene-

A key scene that holds a lot of tension and creates even more of a sense that the Seabiscuit team is made up of “misfits,” is that scene after Seabiscuit’s first loss. He is passed at the very end after Red lets up before crossing the finish line. It’s revealed that Red is blind in his right eye, and after a few moments of uncertainty, Charles has the very quotable line “You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s banged up a little bit.”

During all of the horse races in the movie they do a great job of capturing the intensity using various camera shots along with amplifying the sound of all of the horse’s hoof beats. The tuning out of the crowd almost made it seem like you were riding the horse, completely focused on the race. Every race scene really got my heart beating.
Youtube clip of a race scene-

This film is filled with drama, with the horse and jockey both overcoming a lot of setbacks over the course of the movie. So if I had to pick one genre for it I’d say that, but it’s also based on a true story so it’s historical and definitely a sports movie as well. Comparing it to genres from the TV tropes site, it’s almost an exact match to “Underdogs Never Lose.” Everything about the Seabiscuit makes the horse an underdog, yet it dominates races and becomes legendary.

Reading through Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” article, one thing that stuck out as being used often in this movie is “Movement is dominant over things that are still.” Whenever there is a race scene and it’s a close up of the horses, everything in the background almost fades out and the focus is entirely on the horses and riders. The large number of different angles used during each race scene makes it a bit confusing to identify what the horses and jockeys are portrayed as. One moment there will be a low camera angle portraying them “gods” and the next there will be a birds eye shot making them seem like “pawns.”


“Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” –

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