Woodlawn is a movie based on a true story, the “Jesus movement” of the 1970s of a football team at a Birmingham, Ala. high school with the same name. Woodlawn is similar to the 2000 film “Remember the Titans” with an evangelical twist.
The movement really took off at the state championship game, Hank played by Sean Astin, is asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer. The superintendent pulled the plug on the microphone, but the thousands in attendance continued to recite the prayer for him.
Gifted football player Tony Nathan steps into Woodlawn High School and onto Coach Tandy Gerald’s football team in a newly desegregated Birmingham. The team struggled to get going until self- proclaimed “sports evangelist” Hank comes to speak to the team . After Hank spoke almost the whole Woodlawn Colonels football team converted to Christianity.
The coaches as well as the players were proud to know that they were no longer playing for their own benefit, but for the glory of Jesus Christ. Star running back, Tony Nathan begins to lead the team to victory after another until they face rival team Banks High School. Shorty White (C. Thomas Howell), Banks High School’s head football coach, would do literally whatever it took on the field to win until he is converted as well.
Director as well as brothers Jon and Andy Erwin used a family story and gave the audience a glimpse of what took place during those revolutionary football seasons. Their father was the former Alabama Senator, Hank Erwin, who served as the sports chaplain that came to speak to the Colonels football team that started the changes in the players’ and coaches’ lives.
Alabama famous, Paul “Bear” Bryant played by Jon Voight, exhibits determination through his inexhaustible efforts to recruit Tony Nathan to play football at the University of Alabama despite racial tensions. He even showed up to his house one day with a suitcase claiming “I’m not leaving here until you decide to come to Alabama.”
Believe. No fear. This is what Nathan writes on athletic tape on the back of his helmet. Despite being so scared before his first starting game that he vomited, when he stepped on the field he believed. He had no fear. Through everything Nathan, his team, his family, and his coaches went through they stood their ground without letting those who opposed them see fear in them instead they saw Christ’s love.