Disney's Remember the Titans is based on a true story, but how much of it actually happened? The 2000 movie (which is now available on Disney+) tells an inspirational story about an integrated high school football team overcoming racial tension in 1971. The film stars Denzel Washington as head coach Herman Boone and Will Patton as assistant coach Bill Yoast, along with Ryan Hurst, Wood Harris, Donald Faison, Ryan Gosling, and more as the football players.
In Remember the Titans, Denzel Washington's Herman Boone is an African American head coach who accepts a position at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia. Since the high school was integrated, Boone was faced with the challenge of coaching a team that was plagued by racism, which was present both inside and around the team. Over the course of the film, Boone gains the respect of his players, and over time, they learn to accept each other and move past their differences as they succeed on and off the field and eventually become state champions. Tragedy strikes when one player, Ryan Hurst's Gerry Bertier, suffers an injury that leaves him a paraplegic. He dies years later, and the players reunite for his funeral where they sing "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye".
Gerry Bertier's accident and the team's journey to becoming state champions under the direction of Herman Boone did happen, and these are the most important events that take place in the film. But, a great deal of what occurs in Remember the Titans was fictionalized for dramatic purposes. There were several moments in the movie that show just how bad racism was at the time, and how it affected the team. In one scene, a restaurant refuses service to two of the players. However, this was made up for the movie, as were other scenes, like the group of protesters at the beginning. As Boone and others on the team have noted, the racial tension experienced by the players was exaggerated in Remember the Titans.
Remember the Titans shows the players dealing with racism on their own team, specifically blacks and whites struggling to reconcile their racial differences while being forced to play together. But it's been said by the real-life players and coaches that racism wasn't really an obstacle for the players themselves, and a player with these issues would have been dropped from the team prior to their first game.
There were several other changes as well in Remember the Titans; it was actually a toilet - and not a brick - that was thrown through the real Herman Boone's window. It's not difficult to imagine why Disney chose to alter this particular event. The kiss between Sunshine (Kip Pardue) and Gerry and the song-and-dance routine used in warm-ups were among the things that were added for the sake of the story. Some of the players and the people in their lives, such as Kate Bosworth's Emma Hoyt, weren't real either. Also, the real-life state championship game was actually a blowout, so the movie instead uses an earlier, much closer game and makes it the state championship instead. So while Remember the Titans is loosely based on a true story, several of its most memorable moments were created for dramatic effect.