the Giants was never on the top of my “To Be Watched” list. I
had heard almost nothing about the movie until my friend Kelly invited
a group of people to watch it together. The DVD player in the living
room broke, so we moved to the bedroom—eleven of us—and piled on the
bed, the chairs, the floor, and even the end tables.
There’s something special about
movies with sports metaphors: Rudy,
Hoosiers, Radio, and Glory Road. They are
all powerful movies with powerful messages. And now there’s another one
to add to the Sports Movie Hall of Fame—Facing the Giants.
I loved this movie! Would it be over the top to say that it was
magical? Okay, maybe not magical. But it was incredible. It moved me to
tears more than once. And I watched the guys’ reaction to the movie; I
wasn’t the only one who was moved.
The story of the making of Facing
the Giants is well-known among the Christian community. The
script was cowritten by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Sherwood
Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. With a lot of prayer, a little
know-how, and a bevy of volunteers from their church and town, the
Kendrick brothers produced and directed this movie. Alex acted in the
lead and was supported by an all-volunteer cast that was mostly made up
of people from the church.
In Facing the Giants,
Coach Grant Taylor has had six losing seasons at Shiloh Christian
School. He is trying his best to motivate his talented but apathetic
team, and nothing seems to work. A few losses into his seventh season,
he finds out that the parents of his players and even one of his
assistant coaches are plotting to replace him. On top of that betrayal,
his house is falling down around him: his car won’t run, and he learns
that he and his wife can’t have children. Surrounded by the giants of
fear and failure, he decides to seek answers from God. The answers
change him, his family, and his team.
When I first came across the
novelization of this movie, I had already seen the movie six or seven
times and practically forced all of my family and friends to watch it
with me. Soon, I decided that I should read the novelization and see if
it was as special as the movie.
The novelization of Facing
the Giants was written by Eric Wilson. I had read good things
about Wilson’s work. He was the cover author on the August issue of our
own Christian Fiction Online Magazine. With a
strong script to work with, I knew that the book would be a good read.
But would it hold the same magic as the movie?
you take the movie apart and look at each piece—script, story,
characters, and actors—what is it that makes this movie so special and
different? For me, it’s the authenticity of the story. The characters
were probably the most real of any movie characters
I’ve ever seen. They were people that I would expect
to see at my own
church or workplace. Flawed, normal,
everyday people who
remind me of myself and the people I love. Yet, just when they have
been beaten too much and I expect them to give up, they don’t. They
stand up and keep fighting. And that gives me hope that I can keep
standing and fighting, too.
That’s the magic of Facing
My favorite part of Eric
Wilson’s novelization is that he took several of the secondary
characters and told their parts of the story as well. The greatest
example of this was Mr. Bridgers. In the movie, Mr. Bridgers is a man
who comes to the school each week and walks up and down the hallways,
praying for the students and the school. He speaks encouragement to
Coach Taylor when the coach is ready to quit. We see that his prayers
and encouragement are pivotal to the changes in the coach, the players,
and the school. In the novelization, however, Wilson opens the window
to Mr. Bridgers’s life even wider. We see him at his home and with his
family. We see that his love and devotion to the school is his mission
in life. It colors everything he does, and he completely pours himself
out to see the mission completed. Seeing this side of Mr. Bridgers
through Wilson’s eyes added a dimension to an already great story and
made it even a bit more special.
I enjoyed Wilson’s
novelization. It made me laugh and cry all over again. He kept all of
the beautiful nuggets that made the movie what it was. However, I have
to admit that it didn’t have the same effect on me that the movie did.
The best analogy I can give is that even the best sportswriter in the
world can’t make you experience the game the way actually being there
This month, I have to choose
the movie, Facing the Giants, above the book. In
many ways, this movie has become a legend in the Christian community.
The Kendrick brothers and Sherwood Baptist Church did something that
had never been done before. They set a standard and cut a path for
other Christian filmmakers and churches to follow. But they also made a
movie that provides quality family entertainment while also providing a
strong ministry message. This movie is already becoming a Christian
classic, and you and your family will absolutely enjoy watching it.