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We Are Marshall

A movie directed by Joseph McGinty

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We Are Marshall - 2006

  • Oct 10, 2008
Pros: ...

Cons: ...

The Bottom Line:
"Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again"
~Cat Stevens

The story of We Are Marshall is one of hope and inspiration. Unlike Rudy, The Natural, or other stories of that tell of one person overcoming the odds, this one tells about the devastation and rebirth of an entire town and its inhabitants. It is based on actual facts but I don't know how closely the movie follows the true story of Marshall University and the town of Huntington, WV.

The university isn't a particularly large one, nor the town. It is a tightly knit community that follows their love of football and the success of their team. It is because of this devotion that the town, town leaders, and almost the entire football team and coaches were killed one night in November, 1970. And it happened just on the outskirts of the town, to make it even more devastating. They were so close to home.

The team was returning, via chartered flight, from a trip to Kinston, NC. All 75 people on board were killed as the plane approached the runway on its return trip, clipping treetops, and crashing nose first into a ravine. The few students that could not make the trip, for various reasons, rushed to the crash site and identified what bodies that could be salvaged for recognition.

At this point it was decided that the football team for Marshall would be abolished. After all, there were only 3-4 students left that had played on the team and even the coaches had been killed. Nate Ruffin, one student that had missed the flight because of illness, took it upon himself to go to the board of governors with backing from the student body to resurrect football at Marshall University. College president, Don Dedman, finally convinces Coach Jack Lengyel to join the team and then an even bigger hurdle, convincing the NCAA to allow freshmen to play starting positions.

I won't say that Marshall had a winning season that year but it wasn't about winning the game anyway. It was about bringing back the foundation for the town that it so sorely missed. Lengyel was forced to find any manner of boys to play the sport coming from backgrounds that included baseball, basketball and soccer. He stayed several years at Marshall with an overall record of 9-33. In 1988, he because athletic director at the Naval Academy.

What is more important is the impact that this entire thing had on the town and remaining inhabitants. Some children were orphaned since both parents were traveling with the booster club on the plane. Some lost their sons and brothers, fathers, wives, and fiances. Some grew bitter with the loss, some introspective. However each was affected, the return of the Marshall University Young Thundering Herd [the original team was known as Thundering Herds] to the field help cement a town back together, helped some old wounds heal, and helped others to move on with their lives.

There was not room on the plane for the cheerleaders; they did not attend this game.

As a note, Nate Ruffin, the surviving team captain, died in 2001 after a long fight with cancer. He had some of the most powerful and poignant scenes in the movie and, as far as I am concerned, was responsible for bringing Marshall back.

This film was directed by McG; Jamie Linden screenplay was taken from the story by Cory Helms. It carries a PG rating for emotional material, mild language, and the crash scenes. It was nominated for an ESPY award for best sport movie.

The actors in the film include Matthew McConaughey as Jack Lengyel, Matthew Fox as Red Dawson, David Strathairn as Don Dedmon and Anthony Mackie as Nate Ruffin. All the players did an outstanding performance in their respective parts.

Closing credits show clips of some of the more well known players from Marshall: Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, and Byron Leftwich. Other cameo shots were of current sports director at WSAZ-TVand play-by-play announcer for Marshall, Keith Morehouse. His father, Gene, the former play-by-play announcer was killed in the plane crash. His wife was one of the 18 children left orphaned from the crash.

This movie covered an unbelievable tragedy but offers hope for the future.


This movie is my submission to the Good Movies Write-Off 2, hosted by captaind


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More We Are Marshall reviews
review by . November 01, 2008
Another movie based on sports   This time a football team   That rose up from the ashes   Of the ending of a dream     The Thundering Herd was heading home   And then disaster hit   Their plane came in a bit too low   And sadly, that was it     The board that ran the college tried   To shut the program down   But had to reconsider   When petitioned by the town     The …
review by . March 27, 2008
Pros: See Review     Cons: None     The Bottom Line: "WE ARE (ALL) MARSHALL."     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. It is rare these days that a movie is deep and meaningful enough to elicit genuine emotion. We are Marshall (2006), which chronicles the horrible plane crash that took the lives of 75 people in 1970 including (almost) the entire Marshall University football team, and it aftermath, is …
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Susi Dawson ()
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