Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Hard Road

The Hard Road is a documentary that focuses on a first year pro-cycling team in the United States. While each member (of the eight on the team) comes from a different background, they fight for a common goal. The Hard Road allows the viewer to see what it's like in the lives of a professional cyclist, from the hardships to the successes. The team members come to know what effort, hardwork and drive really are.

Release Year: 2004
Rating: Unrated
Length: 120m

For more information, view its pages at the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes or purchase it from Amazon. 

  • Anxiety: After traveling to one of the National Calendar Races, the team worked out the strategy for race day. After getting back to hotel for sleep, one of the team members commented that there was no way he was going to be able to sleep. The following morning, he talked about how much he worried and thought about the race. He clearly showed some anxiety about his role on the team which in return could hinder his performance.
  • Career Issues: To some, pro-cycling sounds like it would pay well. However, the average first year salary is only $10,000. A rookie on the team commutes to work (via his bicycle) 25 miles so he can get some sort of training in. He works 12 hour shifts M-F. It's difficult to support yourself and manage your time especially when there are seven other people relying on you. Another rookie, is supported by his older brother (whom he lives with when the team isn't on the road). His brother supported him because he knew the salary of a pro-cycling team wasn't enough and he wanted to give him the chance at chasing his dream.
  • Focus: When you're riding alone or with a team, a certain level of concentration must always be maintained. The rider must know their role and position during that race. Even when oxygen levels go down and it becomes very grueling, you still need to know what's going on around you. If you aren't aware of the riders around you then you could get "spit out the back" of the pack of riders and be instantly put behind everybody. This was clearly shown in the video during one of the National Calendar Races. This would obviously put the team's success at stake as well as the position of the rider on that team. One of the veterans on the team commented on the sport of cycling itself, saying that the cyclist needs to think about a race intellectually, instead of the pain involved.
  • Going for your Dream: The six rookies who made up the majority of the eight person team finally had their chance to live their dream. Yes, they were put on the team but they literally went down a hard road to get there and they continue to go down that "Hard Road" throughout the video. One of the rookies, Jason, spent his younger years as a professional surfer and decided his time was up when he became passionate about cycling... now he's pursuing this new dream of pro-cycling.
  • Leadership: The veterans on the team are clearly playing leadership roles during the races. "Experience" itself is a key piece to racing and this is talked about throughout the entire video. One of the veterans commented on the rookies as a whole by saying they are "always trying way too hard." He was speaking of this in terms of experience; the rookies would get frustrated during some points in a race and it wasn't because they weren't physically fit, it had more to do with bike handling and special situations that could only turn out successful if the experience was there. Because experience is necessary, the veterans were willing and able to pass down knowledge and put the rookies in situations where experience was gained.
  • Parents/Families: This documentary took a look at the lives of these cyclists when they weren't competing and training. Some of the guys were married and you could definitely tell the time taken out to chase their dreams was taking a toll on their marriages. One of the newly wed's wives commented that she was ready for children whenever her husband was however, she said she couldn't wait much longer. It was evident that family was extremely important to her but the chance for the rookie to live his dream seemed to be taking a higher level of importance at that time.
  • Teamwork: After the team traveled to one of their National Calendar Races they went out to ride the course, before the day of the race. During the ride, they evaluated the situations that could/would occur and strategized by assigning each team member to a different job. The rookies were assigned the task of delivering the two veterans to the front of the pack. One of the team members was assigned specifically as a hill climber. Through teamwork, the riders would have a better chance at a successful outcome.

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India

Lagaan is takes place during a dry year when the British commanding officer doubles the tax (lagaan) on the Indian villagers in the province he rules. The villagers resist, and the officer challenges them to a game of cricket. If the villagers win, the lagaan is canceled for three years, but if they lose, the tax is tripled. A Bollywood classic. (Note: Originally filmed in Hindi, depending on which version you buy, you might only be able to have English subtitles).

Release Year: 2001
Rating: PG
Length: 224m (yes, it's that long - not a typo)

For more information, view its pages at the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes or purchase it from Amazon.

  • Cultural Differences: Each team has different "playing" styles, different dress, different values, etc. all of which are obvious; the commanding officer's sister helps the villagers and learns about their traditions; the players must also deal with an "Untouchable" who wants to join the team
  • Focus: During the match, a couple players become too amped up and lose their concentration, causing them to get out
  • Leadership: Bhuvan (the protagonist) must convince his fellow villagers the cricket match is a good idea and recruit people to play; Bhuvan is also looked to as the team captain and keeps everyone on track
  • Sportsmanship: During the cricket game, the British team engages in acts of unsportsmanlike conduct, such as deliberately throwing the cricket ball at the batters to injure them
  • Teamwork: All the villagers must work together to defeat the British team; each person has a role, but sometimes they must step up in order to succeed

Coach Carter

Coach Carter is based on a true story of an inner-city high school basketball team that only won four games the year previous to getting a new coach. Coach Carter comes in and changes the atmosphere of the team, trying to teach life lessons and change the mindsets of his players into student-athletes. He prepares them for the future through a bumpy road to success.

Release Year: 2005 Rating: PG-13
Length: 136m

For more information, view its pages at the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes or purchase it from Amazon.

  • Commitment: This theme is depicted in the beginning when Coach Carter explains his rules to the team; they are not to use the word "n***a", must maintain a 2.3 GPA (even though the state only requires a 2.0), go to and sit in the front of all classes, and stick to a dress code. Coach says they will refer to each other as "sirs" and sign a contract to follow the rules if they want to play. They are required to make a serious commitment to the team.
  • Teamwork: In the beginning, after Timo Cruz gets kicked off the team he asks, "What do I gotta do to play?" Coach gives him the impossible task of completing 2500 pushups and 1000 suicides by Friday. When faced with failing, the team joins together in through teamwork and helps him finish the task. Lyle says "remember what you said coach, if one struggles then we all struggle, if one triumphs then we all triumph."
  • Sportsmanship: In the middle of the movie during a practice, Coach Carter says "That's me, I did that, I drew that play up." Here sportsmanship is depicted when Coach says, "since when is winning not enough? Now you have to humiliate your opponent? You won four games last year, what gives you the right to ruin the game I love? Play with class and act like a champion."
  • Education: At one point towards the end of the movie, Coach Carter notices that his athletes aren't putting student first so he locks the gym. He says that Richmond High School only graduates 50% and only 6% of students go on to college. He demands they get their grades up and forfeits games until they do. Education is the theme when he tells the boys to go home and "ask yourself, do you want better for your life?" He feels that school should be the highlight of their life, not basketball.
  • Life Skills: Coach Carter's theme in the middle of the movie is life skills. At one point he asks Timo Cruz, "what is your deepest fear Mr. Cruz, that you're inadequate?" He later gets a response that Timo has learned from his experiences that proves to Coach Carter that Timo is learning life lessons. Coach also says to the players "what is it that you want out of this season?" at which they say "to win a championship". Coach asks them "who won the championship last year?" and none know the answer. He asks them how they see themselves.