The Hammer movie delivers inspirational true story

By Jillian Winn
Monday, February 20, 2012

The Hammer, a movie based on the life of the first deaf NCAA Wrestling Champion and UFC Fighter Matt "The Hammer" Hamill, was released on DVD a few weeks ago. The DVD cover says, "the inspirational true story," and it was just that… whether or not you are interested in wrestling, sign language, or deaf culture, the movie is an inspirational story about overcoming challenges and working hard to make your dreams a reality. And if you are interested in sign language (of course you are, if you are on Signing Savvy!), you should check out this movie.

Watch the trailer:

Different, not Disabled.

The film takes us on Matt's journey from childhood to an adult, starting with a scene where his grandfather is in the room with an audiologist while Matt, as a toddler, is having his hearing tested. The grandfather says to the audiologist, "After a couple of flashing lights and a teddy bear, you're going to tell me my grandson is deaf and dumb?" The audiologist responds, "No… I'm going to tell you, you have a highly intelligent grandson who is profoundly deaf."

Young Matt Hamill in The Hammer movieThis heart-wrenching opening scene represents an all too common misconception of those who are deaf or hard of hearing (HOH). There is nothing "dumb" about deaf or HOH individuals and please be careful with using the terminology "handicapped" as well. Deaf or HOH individuals are just as capable, able, and intelligent as hearing individuals. The Hammer movie does a great job of showing this distinction of different, not disabled.

When you know better, you do better.

Matt's grandfather was a strong influence in his life and although throughout the film he delivers "tough love" to try to make him stronger, it's not because he views Matt as weak, it's because he sees how strong he is. A scene close to the end of the movie shows a softer side of his grandfather and the love he has for Matt (but we won't spoil it for you!). The film can help introduce those unfamiliar with deaf and HOH individuals with deaf culture.

A glimpse into deaf culture.

There are a lot of takeaways in the film for those not familiar with deaf culture. The film's production team made some great decisions which added to the authenticity and overall storytelling within the film:

Matt Hamill in The Hammer movie

  • They casted all deaf roles in the film with deaf actors.
  • There is a sparse soundtrack and the audio is softened and muffled in certain parts to try to give hearing viewers a small glimpse into what it would be like to be deaf.
  • Sign language is used in the film with captioning so non-signers can understand (it is the first non-foreign language film to incorporate open captioning). For those that don't understand sign language, it adds to the storytelling aspect of the film. For those who are deaf, HOH, or learning sign language, you can turn off the captioning.
  • The director also noted that, "I used many wide angles to help mirror an enhanced peripheral view, which is common among deaf people who communicate 100% through visuals."

The verdict: Two open-palm, shaking hands (sign for clapping/cheering)

The Hammer is an inspirational story of determination and a sensory view into deaf culture for the hearing. If you are learning sign language, you should check out this movie.

But don't just take our word for it... The Hammer was a winner at several film festivals, including the Newport Beach Film Festival, Florida Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Miami Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Philly Cinefest Film Festival, Maui Film Festival, and Heartland Film Festival.

Finding the Film

Please note this film is rated PG-13 and not for young children.

The Hammer can be found at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Blockbuster, iTunes, Netflix, and many cable and satellite PayPerView providers.

You can also find it on the website for The Hammer movie.

Thoughts? Discussion?

The Hammer brings up many interesting topics for discussion. If you watched the movie, tell us what you thought:

  • Did you like the movie?
  • What did it leave you thinking about?
  • If you could ask Matt "The Hammer" Hamill or the Producers/Director of the movie a question, what would you ask them?

We would love to hear your thoughts! Leave your comment below or on the Signing Savvy Facebook Page.

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