Olympics Movie Marathon: Race

Grab yer popcorn and favorite fuzzy blanket- it's movie time!

This weekend, I watched Race, a biographical sports drama about Jesse Owens who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.

Watching Olympics movies is a great way, I've found, to get excited about the Games, especially considering the current political climate. There are so many difficult things going on in the world that I appreciate a moment to remember a historic moment that arose in the midst of adversity. This movie reminded me of the part of the Olympic Games that we often take for granted, but can often be the most moving moment- athletes standing on an Olympic podium while their national anthem plays. For a long period of time Jesse Owen was underrecognized for his outstanding achievements, and I hope this movie sheds light on his story for others as it did for me.

I learned a few new things during this movie (which for me is rare when it comes to the Olympics!). First, the story of German athlete Luz Long, who gave advise to Jesse Owens that eventually led to [Jesse] winning the Gold in long jump. Jesse and Luz remained friends until Luz' death in 1943 fighting for the German National Army.

I was also moved by the stories of the two Jewish sprinters Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller who did not get the chance to compete in Berlin because of their religion and the nature of the Nazi Games. This act also highlights a key character both in the film and on the international stage- former IOC President Avery Brundage.  He is still the only American to have attained the position and remains controversial. I wrote at length about Brundage in my review of the Olympics in my thesis because of his role in the Berlin Games as well as the 1972 Munich Games (which have their own fair share of movies if you are interested).

Overall, I agree with the Rotten Tomatoes review of 61% for this film. I found it heartwarming though a little thin. I'm certain there's more they could have delved into about the racism that Jesse Owens faced as well as the horrors of the holocaust that you barely see unfolding in the background of this film. In a way, it is a relief to only face this issues on the surface and enjoy a little of the Olympic heroism that these types of movies are known for.

Stay tuned for a few more movie reviews as we get ramped up for the Games- including some sneak peek photos of the Olympics Party coming up in August!


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