I grew up in Huntington, West Virginia, home to Marshall University’s Thundering Herd. It was only five or six years ago when film crews began moving in. Huntington became the center for a movie based on a tragic airplane crash in the early 1970s which killed almost all of the Marshall football team. It was a tragedy that has remained in the minds of Huntington residents and Marshall fans. The Hollywood film crew came to tell the story of these lost souls and show how Marshall rose from the ashes to become the school it is today.
For the most part, the filming was an aggravation to everyone who was not involved with the movie. Going to class everyday quickly became a game of find your way through the maze. The sidewalk and doors you used to go to class would be blocked off when you came back out. Sidewalks would be blocked throughout the center of campus, forcing students to travel the long way around buildings and other obstacles. Streets downtown were blocked for days as film crews took over. It was an aggravation, but the price was well worth it for Marshall’s story to be told.
Students were given the opportunity to participate in the filming. One morning in particular, the film crews needed a large crowd to recreate a scene where students are in the center of campus shouting in unison the famous quote from the movie, “We are Marshall”. Many people went in hope of catching a glimpse of Matthew Mcconaughey, the star of the film. Others went for the experience of being in a movie. Some went out of boredom. Regardless the reason, it was quite an event when a few hundred people stood in the middle of campus and chanted loud enough the ground shook.
After the movie came out in theatres, it was almost a necessity for all residents of the area to go see the movie. It was interesting to see all the different areas of Huntington in a movie and the story was dramatized a little, but still showed the struggle and heartache of the community.
Whether somebody liked the movie or not, it was an unwritten rule to only speak positively about the film. Overall it was a uniting force which brought the community together. It showed all the local residents that no matter how devastating an event was, the school and community could rebuild itself even when left with nothing.
So the next time you sit down for a movie, try watching “We Are Marshall” and relive the experience of how Marshall rose from the ashes of a horrible tragedy.