Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What the Movie Concussion Is About by Anita Durairaj

recently saw Concussion in theaters and I was intrigued by the movie's theme. Directed by Peter Landesman, the movie was released on December 25th, 2015, and addresses a very interesting topic: brain disease caused by the aggressive sport of football.

The cast includes Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks and Luke Wilson. The movie tells the story of Nigerian doctor Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) who works as a forensic pathologist in Pittsburgh. While performing an autopsy on former NFL football player Mike Webster (David Morse), this highly accomplished doctor discovers neurological deterioration that is similar to that of Alzheimers. He names this condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and publishes his new discovery in a medical journal. When other athletes begin to suffer from the same diagnosis, Omalu sets out to raise public awareness about the dangers of football-related head trauma. He is backed only by a few friends and family, such as his wife Prema Mutiso (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), boss Dr. Cyril Wecht (Albert Brooks) and former NFL Team Doctor Dr. Julian Bales (Alec Baldwin), as he takes on Roger Goodall (Luke Wilson). However, it is clear that fighting against a corporation as powerful as NFL and a sport as iconic as football is no easy ride. 

To find out more about CTE click on the following link:

One certain positive of Concussion was the acting done by Will Smith; it is definitely worthy of a Golden Globe as Best Actor for this movie. From accent to personality, Smith portrayed Doctor Omalu superbly. I also believe that David Morse acted out Webster's physical deterioration very well and that Gugu Mbatha-Raw played the role of immigrant/ devoted wife/ determined personality accurately. No doubt, this was a great movie. It kept me glued to the screen, as any good movie should. 

However, Hollywood's great acting and a captivating storyline wasn't the dominating thing in this movie; it was the facts. The main point is that the movie's plot is based on a true account, not a creative story. Dr. Omalu did actually find a disease caused by football. And NFL actually did cover it up for a while. For many people, football-related brain disease is not something they want to talk about. I mean, even if you don't follow football regularly, it's hard to imagine living in this country without it. And if you do, you probably couldn't imagine life without it! Football has become such a part of our culture, and accusing the sport of causing a deadly disease seems ridiculous.

However, the effects of CTE are portrayed vividly in this movie; seeing such football stars as Mike Webster, Dave Duerson (Adele Akinnuoye -Agbaje) and Andre Waters (Richard T. Jones) die from this disease is scary. Concussion is about the dangers of such implications. NFL knows, as the movie implies, that football-related brain disease exists and has done nothing about it. Imagine the dangers involved! Each NFL team is allowed to have 53 players on its roster (plus a five-player practice squad). As of 2011, the NFL has 32 teams, making a total of 1,696 players, many of whom will suffer multiple concussions that could perhaps result in CTE! 

Is the revenue and popularity generated by pro-football worth dying for? That is the question that Concussion poses, and the question that shows us what the movie is really about. It's also a question that both the NFL and football fans have to pay attention to. Who knows what kind of a long-term response this movie will receive? As Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine put it: "Hardly mandatory pre-Super Bowl viewing for football junkies. But wait. Maybe it should be".  

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