Million Dollar Baby is a multifaceted story about family, love, self-worth, endurance, chasing dreams, and what it means to lose everything. Inspired by the story of Katie Dallam, the first female boxer to be seriously injured during a match in 1996, Million Dollar Baby was released eight years later on December 15, 2004. The film was created on a budget of thirty million dollars and included a sensational super-star set of actors including Hilary Swank, as Maggie Fitzgerald, Morgan Freeman and Eddie Dupris, and Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn.
Director Clint Eastwood truly outdid himself in the film; he also starred as one of the main characters, Frankie Dunn. Eastwood earned the movie various Academy Awards including Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Actress.
The main actors, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood, put on stellar performances. The audience can feel every physical and emotional torment that Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) is forced to endure. Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman) radiates wisdom. He is a character that has seen and experienced it all. And Clint Eastwood allows the audience to see right through Frankie Dunn. Behind his stiff and stand-offish demeanor is a man with hurt and love in his heart. Towards the end the audience hangs on to every word that comes out of Dunns grave voice. The audience is able to experience the soul of Frankie Dunn through Eastwoods capturing performance. The powerful plot in Million Dollar Baby demanded this gifted set of actors.
In many ways Million Dollar Baby is similar to the real life story of Katie Dallam. Both women, too old for the female boxing industry, went above and beyond to make their dreams a reality and didnít take no for an answer. These head-strong and determined women did what others said was impossible and had it all end in tragic injuries. However, it is important to note that Million Dollar Baby isnít the biography of Katie Dallam, this film is so much more. It has a complex plot that deals with many themes and hidden meanings. Frankie Dunn, a boxing trainer, makes a strong connection with Maggie Fitzgerald, and from the instant they meet it is clear this wont be a typical trainer-boxer relationship, she becomes his surrogate daughter. Maggies own family are numb and detached individuals who cause her nothing but emotional pain. Luckily, Dunn fills that emotional void in Maggie Fitzgerald and with his love and guidance leads her to fame and a sense of self-worth. Maggie Fitzgerald accomplishes what others can only dream about, she gets to the Million Dollar Match, only to have it all taken away in one single blow. She winds up in the most miserable condition anyone can imagine. Maggie Fitzgerald becomes completely paralyzed as a result of the injury. She cannot do anything on her own but lay in bed; she develops bed sores and an infection that leads to her foot being amputated as a result of not being able to move. For Maggie Fitzgerald her life becomes a burden and the asks Frankie Dunn to do the unthinkable, something that challenges his faith as a Catholic and as a human being. The film keeps the audience on the edge of their seats till the very end. Million Dollar Baby is real, raw, heart-shattering and unexpected. Even after the agonizing ending the audience is left in a daze of mystery, mulling over the unanswered questions in the film. One can watch Million Dollar Baby a hundred times and find a new moral each time. The film also examines controversial topics such as mercy killing, gender roles, religion, suicide, and disability.
Clint Eastwood succeeded in creating a film that has it all, so to say. This isnít your typical oscar-winning movie. Whether Youíre looking to watch a thriller, drama, or even comedy you wont find yourself disappointed with Million Dollar Baby. What makes Million Dollar Baby unique is that it has so many dimensions that every individual person can find their own meaning and find a way to relate to the plot. The film doesnít fall under any one specific genre. Million Dollar Baby is emotional and action packed, but also challenging and can be the grounds for an excellent debate. In short, Million Dollar Baby is simply baffling; it has aspects of many great films molded into one. I wouldnít be surprised if Million Dollar Baby finds itself among the list of classics in the near future.