“Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me”
Inspirational words spoken by coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Quaid) before the big game.
The Sport genre is a difficult genre to master, maybe even the hardest. We’ve seen so many underdog stories come true and so many men come up through the ranks to become the best. They have created a formula and producers never dare stray from it, but The Express (2008) seems to differ from that.
The Express is one of the most tragic of American football stories. The film follows Heisman trophy winner Ernie Davis from just a young boy in a prejudice society towards coloureds, to a grown man fighting for his team. Ernie Davis states towards the end of the film,
“football is just a game. What matters is what you play for. Sometimes when the game is close and everything is on the line, that’s when you forget the crowd and the noise.” Indeed he is fighting for what he saw men fighting for him do when he was young, freedom.
Ernie Davis plays for Syracuse NY. He is a running back of the highest order and is desperate to win a Heisman trophy. As it always does, this film falls to the last game, against their bitter rivals, and against all odds he prevails and beats them. Whats interesting is the film would usually end as the team celebrate on the field, but Ernies story has not finished yet.
Ernie Davis was a typical black boy who had to peer over his shoulder all the time, but after gaining a place in Syracuse’ roster he fights to the top. What I enjoyed about this film is the theme of racism runs throughout the whole film, but they don’t rub it in our faces constantly so all we see is a film about race, we also see a film about the wonderful game of football. How one man prevails against all odds to play for his team, and to win the national championship.
People said that Davis was destined for greatness, that he would become the best running back to have ever played in the NFL. But it wasn’t to turn out that way. At the tender age of 23, without ever playing a game in the NFL, Ernie Davis died of Leukaemia. To this day, his number for the Cleveland Browns has never been used in mark of respect.
"I would say he’s the next Ernie Davis (talking about upcoming RB Floyd Little), but they’ll never be another Ernie Davis" - Coach Schwartzwalder
The Express 7/10