Monday, September 22, 2008

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

Kevin Rafferty | 2008 | 105 mins | USA

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 takes us into a really neat world - that is, the world of American Ivy League university football during perhaps the most turbulent year of the revolutionary civil rights / Vietnam era - 1968. The doc centres around an unforgettable game with an incredible and unexpected outcome - the final match of the season between Harvard and Yale, both undefeated going into the game, for the first time since the early 1900s.

Great archival footage of the famous game accompanies the men's stories as they recount the events of that day. Players from both sides (including Tommy Lee Jones, who played for Harvard) are interviewed not only about the game, but about the fascinating socio-political backdrop against which the events were set. The testemonials paint a fascinating picture of ultra-privileged Yale with their top-notch team, pitted against scrappy upstart Harvard (if you can believe it) - a team filled with working class average joes which was essentially considered to be undefeated "by accident or surprise" all season.

At Yale, student comic strip Doonesbury jovially pokes fun at a jock named B.D., clearly modelled after the school's star quarterback, Brian Dowling. Anecdotes about roommates such as Al Gore (Harvard) and Gearge W. Bush (Yale) and girlfriends such as Meryl Streel (a Vasser girl, did you know?) are peppered throughout, giving a fascinating context for the elite world of future movers & shakers.

Really fun doc. Football fans will get a kick out of the compelling emotional rollercoaster of a story about the game itself, but there's enough social commentary in this to appeal to just about anyone interested in recent American history.

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