Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Toby Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks
Seabiscuit is a movie that is based on the book Seabiscuit (An American Legend). The plot revolves around 3 major characters (Red, Charles and Tom) who come together as the jockey, owner and trainer for the undersized and overlooked horse named Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit beat the 4 time winner “War Admiral” by 4 lengths at Pimlico and was voted American Horse of The Year 1938.
The movie takes place during the times of “The Great Depression” and tells an emotional tale of setbacks and tragedy which ultimately results in victory.
The economic themes covered in Seabiscuit are as follows:
The power to overcome adversity:
The Great Depression or the world economic downturn began in 1929 and lasted till 1939. It was a time of hardships, unemployment and deflation. The United States was affected the most during this time. The industrial production fell by 47% and the real GDP fell by 30%.
The most compelling theme of the movie is the ability of people to rise from hardships and adverse times. This is depicted through the characters of the movie in the following ways:
Charles: Charles is able to recover from the death of his child as well as a divorce from his wife. He regroups and changes his profession from car sales to horse-racing.
Tom: Tom overcomes the hard times of the Great Depression which reduced the need of horse-herders in the market. He finds new direction in his life through Seabiscuit and becomes successful.
Red: The most inspirational out of the 3 characters is Red, he survived the separation of his family, hunger, poverty and defeat as a jockey and boxer before emerging victorious a number of times by riding Seabiscuit.
These characters show that anyone can rise from hard times no matter how feeble the possibilities seem to be. The factors that enable people to rise from such hardships are determination, strength and willingness to succeed.
The parallel drawn between the characters and society:
The movie draws a parallel between the struggles of the characters and the society in several ways which are as follows:
Arising out of difficulty:
Tom and Red are down and out of luck just like the unemployed masses of the society. Just as Red and Tom rise above those difficulties and succeed, in the same way the American society rises out of this economic depression to become one of the most prospering economies in the world.
The parallel drawn between the characters in the movie and society that if “damaged goods” given another chance can rise above the adversities. For eg: Rather than rejecting Seabiscuit as a small horse who is incapable and has a bad attitude is given a second change to nurture him back to his true state.
All for One and One for all:
The interesting theme depicted by the movie is how the characters(Red, Tom, Charles and Seabiscuit) are able to work together to achieve the common goal of defeating “War Admiral”. This shows that in such times the society should come together and make efforts collectively to come out of desperate and harsh times.
The Infinite possibilities of “America” :
In the beginning the narrator tells how America is the land of infinite possibilities and especially open-ended possibilities in the American-West. Thus in this canvas where every person can be what he wants to be and attain success, it is in this canvas that Seabiscuit’s story from rags to riches takes place.
Humanity vs Technology:
The narrator indicates that the advancement in technology that led to mass production of various technological marvels like Cars have made people mere cogs in the industrial machine. The people aren’t given room for implementing new ideas that can benefit society. This is realised by Charles and he leaves his job to venture out into the world and express his individuality and humanity. He prospers by selling cars but his son gets killed by driving the same that pushes him to take this step. This parallels were visible in the society at that time where technology failed the people and it was values like concern, humanity and compassion which aided the people and in turn the society to lead America out of the “Great Depression”.