Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Kevin Rafferty's Documentary Film HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 Celebrated in New Book
Stuart Schiffman of Bookreporter.com reviews Kevin Rafferty's new book Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, based on his award-winning documentary film: "Turning books into movies is often the subject for discussion and debate between readers and film aficionados. HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29, by Kevin Rafferty, turns the debate on its ear due to its distinction of being a movie turned into a book. The book grew out of a documentary film of the famous Harvard-Yale football game played on November 23, 1968, when the undefeated Elis faced off against their traditional Crimson rivals in a battle for the Ivy League championship. Rafferty produced, directed, interviewed and photographed every player he could locate and then interspersed scenes from the epic game when Harvard scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds to turn defeat into --- well, a tie. In 1968, sudden death was not a part of college football. So the game ended with the score tied, but with Harvard feeling the exhilaration of victory while Yale deemed the final score a loss. Rafferty attended Harvard as part of his teenage rebellion against his family, a family connected to Yale through several generations. After graduation, he began a filmmaking career, and eventually that classic game became the focal point for a documentary. After viewing a videotape of the game and reliving the unbelievable conclusion, he decided upon a simple strategy for his documentary: let the players tell the story. Armed with a video camera and alumni lists, Rafferty set out across the country to interview the game participants. The interviews are woven into a film of the game itself as the players recall what occurred on the field and on campus during the 1968 football season. While the memories are fairly vivid, there are also some details that have grown fuzzy over the years, and he points out several inaccuracies in the players’ recollections. The movie, of course, has time limitations. If you enjoy the film, you must read Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. The biographies of the players, briefly introduced in the movie, are far more detailed, and we get to learn more about their lives since that fateful day. In addition, their thoughts about the game, life and football are more fully presented to readers. And through these stories, we see just how much the game of football --- and all that it represents --- has changed over the past 40 years. You’ll understand how Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is about more than a football game. The material presented through lengthier interviews and additional anecdotes make the movie and book an inseparable combination. If you are a football fan, child of the 1960s, or just someone who enjoys an uplifting story, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 will warm your heart. The movie-book dilemma is well known: sometimes it’s “read the book,” other times it’s “see the movie.” My advice is simple: do both. You will not be disappointed. "