The newly released 25th Anniversary Blu-ray of “Hoosiers” is not only entertaining for the pure sports aspect of the film but also answers questions for those bothered by story and character shortcomings.
When “Hoosiers” was originally released in 1986, it was well received by audiences and critics from across the country. Though described as “sweet” and “full of charm”, Director David Anspaugh and Screenwriter Angelo Pizza would be the first to tell you that the story is actually dark. It tells the tale of basketball coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) looking for a shot of redemption in a small town in 1951 Indiana. His early nemesis in the film (Barbara Hershey) has several shortcomings of her own that helps create a delicate chemistry between the two. Throw in a brilliant Dennis Hopper as the town alcoholic whose basketball knowledge is second to none and you’ve got quite a dysfunctional group. So with all these characters searching for resolutions to their problems, what makes this so palatable to audiences of all ages? It’s the fact that the treasured game of basketball helps heal the wounds.
Probably the most popular storyline that most get out of the film is the David vs. Goliath factor. For those who have never seen “Hoosiers”, it’s the story of Hickory High School (enrollment of about 3) and the struggles of their basketball team. Hackman leads the team through turbulent times of the regular season all the way to the Indiana State High School basketball championship game. But ultimately, the great thing about the film is that you can choose which way to watch it. You can closely observe the character arc in almost every main player or you can just sit back and root for the good guys.
Any movie buff will want this Blu-ray just to view the story in a crisp, clean picture accented by the wonderful cinematography by Fred Murphy. For the sports movie aficionado, you’ll want to buy this for Anspaugh and Pizzo’s in-depth commentary. They detail many interesting points and several commonly asked questions. For example, “How did Buddy get back on the team?” Also, they hit on a highly popular criticism of the on-screen relationship of Hershey and Hackman. Combine all that with deleted scenes and the actual footage of the Milan Indians (portrayed as the Hickory Huskers) championship game, and you’ve got several hours of pure entertainment.
by Pat Battistini (BTM Marquee’ologist)