Summary: Seabiscuit is a tale of triumph and perseverance. Set in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is a true story (based on a book by Laura Hillenbrand) of one horse and three men: a jockey, a trainer and a businessman.
2003 Universal Pictures and Dreamworks LLC
Directed by Gary Ross
Book by Laura Hillenbrand
Screenplay by Gary Ross
Tobey Maguire .... Red Pollard
Jeff Bridges .... Charles Howard
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Seabiscuit is a tale of triumph and perseverance. Set in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is a true story (based on a book by Laura Hillenbrand) of one horse and three men: a jockey, a trainer and a businessman.
Seabiscuit was a horse that defied all the odds to become a champion. And in doing so, he captured the hearts of a struggling nation. In overcoming his difficulties, he became an icon of hope for the people of the Depression.
We all love a story about the lowly and broken being restored and claiming victory. We love it because we want it to be our story. Stephen Ives, the director of a documentary about the famous horse, has spoken of Seabiscuit’s contagious appeal:
‘We all love to root for the underdog. Seabiscuit makes us feel
that we can do it. That it is possible to make something of
yourself with hard work, commitment and a little luck. This message, both now and in the 1930s was intoxicating for
the Americans and seemed to embody their American Dream.’
The Seabiscuit Story
Despite being a successful car manufacturer, Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) loses his zest for life when his only son tragically dies in a car accident (which in turn leads to the break-up of his marriage). Charles gets a second chance through the love of Marcela (Elizabeth Banks), a woman who sees and understands his broken heart. She introduces him to horses – a great shift down in gear from cars and the pursuit of making money. Charles decides to buy a racehorse.
Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) is a horse trainer who has lost his world of wide-open space and ranges. Most people see him as a lunatic on the fringe of life. He is frequently awkward with people, yet finds horses far less complex - cultivating an almost mystic communication with them.
Charles and Marcela don’t judge Tom by his external circumstances; instead, they see a man who will spend his last five dollars to save a broken horse. When Charles hires him to find a horse and jockey, Tom picks two unlikely runners: Seabiscuit and Red Pollard are both at their lowest point. They are broken, wounded angry losers, and they seem incorrigible.
Pollard (Toby Maguire) is a failed boxer who has spent much of his life on the streets and in bus shelters. He was abandoned as a teenager by his parents, so has no family. He was left to fight for survival during an unforgiving time. His only inheritance is a bag of poetry books and the memory of the family and home he has lost. And he has changed his name from ‘John’ – ‘the beloved’ - to ‘Red’ – ‘the angry’.
Despite not being a great jockey, being blind in his right eye and 5ft-6 (which is tall for a jockey), Tom hires him.
Seabiscuit’s early career is a disaster. He races 35 times as a two-year-old, and comes last nearly every time. When Tom finds Seabiscuit, he has a rugged appearance and a frantic temperament; he is too small, and is considered worthless because he cannot be trained.