The movie Woodlawn, directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, portrays a true story of segregation, perseverance, and faith. When the movie begins, Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama, had recently integrated in accord with federal mandate. The tension between the 500 new black students and the white students was high.
Tony Nathan was one of those new students, and he wanted to play football. While nurturing his football talent, Nathan deals with racial prejudice both on and off the field. However, after a team chaplain speaks to the football team, most of the players commit their lives to Christ. They begin to glorify Him through their faith and character, and the racial tensions on the team begin to subside. The movie highlights Nathan’s football journey at Woodlawn High School and the conflict he faces in regard to his race and decisions about his later life.
Woodlawn has qualities that make it stand out from the typical football movie. Its emphasis on the power of faith to transform communities in spite of racial prejudice gives the viewer a gripping emotional experience. I would recommend this movie to teenagers in Birmingham because it paints a picture of what high school looked like a mere fifty years ago. Against the backdrop of some of the darkest times in the city’s history, Woodlawn portrays a redemptive story of faith.
Note: Viewers should be advised that some minor and implied violence caused the movie to be rated PG.