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Publisher Description

After fourteen years of misfirings and failed projects, H.G. Bissinger's 1990 contemporary classic analysis of Texas high school football finally made it to America's movie screens in 2004. Peter Berg both wrote and directed this two-hour feature in close collaboration with Bissinger, although Bissinger passed on taking a screen credit. While any film adaptation of a book, fiction or nonfiction, can never capture the nuances and complexity of the source text (one might think of The Human Stain or In Cold Blood here), Berg very much captures the atmosphere, the ambience, and the spirit of Bissinger's book. Bissinger's study has grown critical legs over time; it is much more than a chronicle of a team over the course of a season, it is one of the better social and cultural histories of recent years. Bissinger provides the history of Odessa, Texas, especially its peculiar economic history and studies its class structure, racial divide, and its values, honestly and unflinchingly. The result is a richly textured and absorbing critique. Since a film may not unfold so leisurely as a book and must be compressed and visual, an adaptation has to make choices of themes to emphasize and must be faithful and unfaithful, simultaneously, to the source text. Berg solves this dilemma brilliantly by suggesting just about everything in the book through image and cinematography, but selecting central elements as the core structure for the film. Bissinger has acknowledged in several interviews how pleased he is with his actor/director cousin's adaptation, understanding that for coherence and focus, some issues had to be treated cursorily, if at all:

September 22
Sports Literature Association

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