Movie analysis by Dr. Anurag Srivastava


The story of Secretariat.

The movie, based on the inspiring true story of arguably the most famous race horse in American history, begins innocuously enough, with the very ordinary life of Penny Tweedy, at her Denver, Colorado home. A housewife and a mother of four, her role is non-descript at at he start. She seems to be involved in t he thankless job of running a household, and seems to be at the periphery of the dining table as well as the lives of her husband and children. She has to struggle to be a part of the conversation running around and to get her own word in. She seems to well at the back of the race.

The story turns around with the death of her mother. No sooner than she steps into her parental house, she is very different. Though grieving, she is in command of herself and the situation. It is as if she has stepped into a new role. This shift from Mrs Tweedy to Ms Chenery is touched upon many times in the movie.



The identification with both her father and mother is hinted on early during this scene. Her father confuses her with her mother, as is also pointed out by Ms Ham the secretary, a surrogate mother figure in the family. Her father gives her her mothers pin. She like her father loves the horses, and likes her tea the same way her father does. But more importantly she identifies with fathers philosophy of “running your race”. Money and finances seem to be secondary in her life as well.

The substitute mother Ms Ham also reinforces the fathers absolute trust in her and belief in her abilities, and hopes that Penny will stay back and fill her place vacated by by mother.

The story also suggests that Penny had wandered away from who she was and what she loved because of her marriage. her father, struggling with dementia, comments, on first seeing her, in a voice tinged with regret, that “you got married”. It is probable that he is sad that she went into a housewife role and gave up on what she started out as. She replies “Yes, but I am back now, because mama is gone”, suggesting that she is willing to pick up where she left off, and follow the path that her father envisioned for her. Her current life, and her being taken for granted, insignificant, is highlighted by the scenes in which her husband changes the return flight without even consulting her and her brother who suggest that horse breeding needs a certain touch, and dismissively categorizes her – “you are a housewife”.

But Penny Tweedy is re-discovering Penny Chenery. She firmly tells her husband that she needs more time at her fathers farm to sort things out, resists the brothers opinion that the father be moved into a nursing home, reaches out to old friends at the funeral. She stands her ground and dismisses the dishonest trainer, something even her mother did not do. She does not flinch when he moves menacingly towards her and orders him off “my farm”. She tells him that she is not “missy anything”.

She uses her intellect and figures out that the blood line of Bold ruler and Somethingroyal could be a winner. She goes alone for the coin toss in her fathers truck. She engages a new trainer even though he resists in the beginning. She ignores her anxious brother’s pessimism “you got what no one wanted”.

The birth and growth of the colt now parallels her own. As he grows in strength and confidence, so does she. Her father tells her to “let him run his race darling” and it seems for a moment that she is wondering if he is talking to her or the horse.

Penny’s confidence and belief in Big Red progresses through the movie. As the groom Eddie points out, they “lift each other”. She talks about her identification with the colt “i was like him when i went to college, full of adventure”. She now gets a fresh chance to run her race, and the stallion is her savior and her vehicle to be able to follow her heart and her dreams. SHe fights off attempts to buy him and mobilizes money. “i will not live my life in regret. we will see this horse run and win”. But as he runs, and wins, she comes to a pint, before the Belmont race, where she tells him that she’s already won and that now he should run his race. She mentions that philosophy, her fathers vision, during the fight with er brother. That it is important to run your race, do do what you believe in and to follow your heart. Enjoy the victory if it comes, or live with the defeat if that happens.

Dr Swetha pointed out that the in first two of the triple crown races, Secretariat (named by the Secretary Ms Ham) starts out last and comes from behind to win the races. it seems to reflect Penny’s life. She slipped behind to look after her family “I gave up me career to raise the family”. But after she tells him that she has reached where she wants to, that he has run her race, that Secretariat should now run for himself, he starts out at the front in the final race and Belmont, and keeps accelerating through the race, winning by an astonishing 31 lengths, a record that still stands. He now is running for himself, just as in the past two races he seems to be telling Penny, and us all, that you can start last and finish first if you follow your heart.

A powerful message is sent out by Secretariat, by Penny, by the movie itself. It doesn’t matter where you start, when you start, how late you start. If you have the heart, and run the race you want to run, that is the most important thing. you can then win from any position. But the important thing is not the win, not the fame, not the money. The importation thing is that you have the heart to run the race you want to run.

the trainer Lucien also has an interesting story. He is narcissistically injured by his losses, and keeps their clippings as a reminder. he is infuriated when taunted. He chooses something he is bad at, Golf, to retire to, almost as if he is punishing himself for his failure. he, too, is rescued and redeemed by Secretariat, and he burns the clippings before the Belmont race.

The movie is about hope, that if you do what you like with all your heart, if doesn’t matter where you start. You can win, but the most important thing is to run your race.

The discussion touched upon the reality that we see so often in society. How many women and men have given up on their dreams, have never run their races, and have sacrificed their potential under the yoke of anxiety and necessity. there are many Penny Tweedys waiting to be Penny Chenery.


With Dr.Anurag Srivastava analyzing the movie, it was motivational evening.

“The story of secretariat is personality development.”


What?  The analysis of the movie ‘Secretariat’ by Dr. Anurag Srivastava.

Why? To host a movie evening by Reelistic

When? 30th January 2016

Movie analysis by Dr. Anurag Srivastava

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