Opening 28 Jul 2016
Writing credits: Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
Principal actors: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree, Shanice Banton, Carice van Houten
The 1930s were a time of turmoil, rife with prejudice and bigotry. The USA was torn with racial hatred, the divide between African Americans and White Americans still wide, even as integration marched through the south. On the other side of the Atlantic the western world watched with slow realization the racial and religious persecution in Europe. In the midst of this instability the 1936 Olympics were set to take place under the Nazi regime in Berlin, but on a world stage.
This biographical drama focuses on the life of a young black man, Jesse Owens (Stephan James), and his remarkable athletic ability. The singular focus needed by this young man, at an age where people of color were forced to sit in the back of the bus and use the back door at prestigious hotels, was remarkable. Jesse’s natural ability combined with his will power propelled a black man to best Hitler’s Aryan, supposedly superior athletes, showing the world that the notion of superior race was in the dust behind Jesse’s four gold medals.
The secondary element of this film portrays a world of sports no more above politics and corruption then they are today. However, at that time the illustrious USA Olympic committee agreed to far too many requirements of the Nazis, a truly atrocious act due to the desire for status and position.
Overall, a solid film with good performances from James and Jason Sudeikis -- as Jesse Owen’s coach, Larry Snyder. This is a truly incredible true story that reminds us that although the world is 80 years down the track we are still a world full of turmoil, prejudice, and bigotry. (Christine Riney)