Book—Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Having read and enjoyed immensely Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, I was moved to read her previous book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend. This also have the hallmarks of a Hillenbrand’s work—well-researched and, tellingly, the disparate true stories, well-woven to make a bigger than sum of the parts.

The book tells how 3 people—the horse owner, trainer and jockey—each found their individual redemption in an old and journeyman racehorse. Seabiscuit was a racehorse that almost everybody had given up as a winner. By the end of the book, Seabiscuit too, anthropomorphically-speaking of course, found its redemption through the caring hands and self-belief of the 3 principals.

One thing must be said though about the 2008 movie which was based on the book. Seabiscuit, which was starred by Toby Maguire and Jeff Bridges, was nominated for seven Academy Awards but did not win any. One reviewer said, “’s a tremendously well crafted picture that is of course as inspirational as it most assuredly is tender, a fine fine picture indeed. 9/10.”

I beg to disagree. I thought the horse took second billing to the 3 people in the movie; in the book, Seabiscuit was the backbone and the focus of the whole story. The movie was more like a monopaced documentary. For me, the screenplay would have done justice to the book if the writers have dramatised it like a typical 3-stage play. For anyone who have read the book, she knows what third stage was—the zenith of the old journeyman racehorse’s career—the winning of the Santa Anita Handicap, and its $121,000 prize, after two failures and a serious injury. What was poor about the movie was the superfically-treated built-up to the climax of the story.


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