Photo taken by the author
“When a movie character is really working, we become that character. That’s what the movies offer: Escapism into lives other than our own.”
– Roger Ebert
One movie that has been very inspirational and moving to me is “Seabiscuit”.
It’s really the story of two soul’s: a jockey and a horse.
It’s a dual storyline outlining their coming-of-age, and discovering who they really are – who they were born to be.
And like anyone of us, it’s a timeless story that takes time for their real self to emerge: a journey undertaken through thick perils, deep inner darkness, which the characters must go through in order for them to come forth in full radiance.
Both Red (the jockey) and Seabiscuit (the horse) have been given a gift that very few other people recognize.
They don’t even recognize it for what it is themselves.
For most of their lives they have been at the brunt and cruel end of other people’s bullying, negligence, and abuse.
The line in the movie that really stood out for me, the first time and every time since, is: “You don’t throw a whole life away just ‘cause he’s banged up a little.” (1)
For me, this is the theme of the movie.
It’s what the whole show is trying to convey to its viewers.
This line was mentioned in reference to Seabiscuit, the horse that no one could see any potential in, and certainly not invest any worthwhile time in.
Let’s, for a moment, remember who Seabiscuit started out as.
He was a horse that for all of his life had been trained to lose.
Sure, he got to race with the other horses, but for the sole intent of losing so the other horses could feel and taste what true victory is really like.
During training and practice trials, other horsemen would use Seabiscuit and put him up against their own horses, so the other horses would win and get used to the feeling of winning – all the while, with Seabiscuit losing, every time.
Imagine yourself being told: “You are a loser. All you do well is lose.”
Pretty defeating, I’d say.
Think about what this would do to the heart of this horse.
What would it do to your heart if you were Seabiscuit?
And then there’s Red, an only child, who was abandoned by his parents as a young boy, due to the Great Depression of the Stock Market Crash of ’29. His parents, like countless others, lost everything, and couldn’t even afford to keep their child.
He had grown up without the love and presence of his natural parents and was sent to fill these deep longings from the things the world had to offer.
But it was all temporal; none of it lasted or stood the test of time. They were all but a shadow of the real thing.
Before he saw his parents for the last time, his father said to his son, “You have a gift. You have a gift.” (2)
That gift was riding horses well and being able to uniquely relate to them.
And then these two seemingly misfits, as judged by society at that time, are matched together – as horse and jockey.
And they fit together perfectly, like a right-hand and a left-hand glove.
This is because they both understand each other’s lives and all the pain the other has gone through.
Sure, this is a human and a horse we’re talking about here, but are not all feelings, especially of the deeper kind, perceivable?
The story goes on to showing this pair becoming a champion, and winning several horse races they enter, including the big ones.
(1) Seabiscuit, DVD, directed by Gary Ross, (2003; USA: Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Pictures, 2003).