Running Movies

15 07 2006
  • The Games, in which a British upstart, an Aussie aboriginal, a reluctant Czech veteran, and a swaggering Yank contend in an Olympic Marathon. Watch when training morphs from plodding drudgery to radiant ecstasy for Michael Crawford.
  • The Four Minute Mile, a documentary of Roger Bannister, John Landy, and Wes Santee’s pursuit of the four-minute barrier, with commentary from all three men. (Light years better than the recent ESPN drama Four Minutes.)
  • The Jericho Mile, the story of a convict who shapes himself into an Olympic contender behind bars. When Peter Strauss talks about “floating” as he runs, it might be the first moment of unadulterated bliss in his character’s life.
  • Run Lola Run, in which a German punkette dashes all over town trying to raise money to save her useless boyfriend, is no “track” movie, but the flame-haired Lola can really run in this compact film with a great soundtrack.
  • Fire On The Track, a nonfiction film with rare footage of Steve Prefontaine, the 1970s running icon, and testimony from those who knew him, gives more insight into who Pre was than either Without Limits or Prefontaine.
  • Forrest Gump may not have started the Running Boom–Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Joan Benoit Samuelson can take credit for that–but I like to yell “Run, Forrest, run” as they plod through the streets. In this movie, the U.S.A. looks like a pretty nice country to run across.
  • Across The Tracks features Brad Jolie and Ricky Schroeder as reluctantly reunited brothers who become arch-rivals in the 800-meter run.
  • Second Wind, a little-known Canadian production, is the best of a whole batch of films about regular working adults who get more enraptured by running than they could ever have imagined, and about how their lives are transformed by the experience.
  • Personal Best makes the balance between tenacious training and casual camaraderie in the life of a young Olympic hopeful seem enviable. Mariel Hemingway is the teenage prodigy, caught in a triangle between a veteran athlete and a water polo star, played by Olympic marathoner Kenny Moore. Also, lesbians.
  • Chariots Of Fire, naturally. As depicted here, grim and dogged Harold Abraham and ebullient Eric Liddell couldn’t be more disparate characters, but each has his own vivid reason for pursuing gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics. The theme by Vangelis is a staple at road races, and if the opening sequence doesn’t get you out running, nothing will.

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