Updated: June 23, 2021 8:46:37 am
Wednesday (June 23) marks International Olympic Day. The day was chosen by the International Olympic Committee in 1948 to promote the Olympic idea and the importance of organising mass sports competitions across the world. Over the last two decades, the day has seen Olympic Day runs across nations, and some nations have even incorporated the Olympic idea into school curriculums.
This year is special given the highly-anticipated Summer Olympics in Tokyo, scheduled to be held between July 23 and August 8. Delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will, however, still be referred to as the ‘2020 Tokyo Olympics’. A total of 339 events across 33 sports are lined up at the Games.
In keeping with the Olympic spirit and to commemorate International Olympic Day, we have prepared a list of five popular movies that have explored the lives of athletes taking part in the international event. Each of these films have garnered critical acclaim for their portrayal of the grit and determination that leads to individual and collective success at the Games.
1. Chariots of Fire (1981)
Directed by Hugh Hudson, the 1981 British historical drama, starring Ben Cross and Ian Charleson in the lead roles, is based on the lives of British athletes Eric Liddle and Harold Abrahams. The film looks at Liddle’s and Abrahams’ rivalry and their journey to become Olympic champions at the Paris Olympic Games in 1924. Through two young men in their prime competing against each other, audiences are taken on a journey and get to experience the anguish of defeat and the ambrosia of victory. Chariots of Fire was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won in two categories: Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
2. Miracle (2004)
Directed by Gavin O’Connor, Miracle tells the story of the US ice hockey team and their head coach Herb Brooks. Starring Kurt Russell, the film is different from your usual sports film in that it is the coach who gets the lead role and not the star athlete. Brooks is newly hired as the head coach of the United States ice hockey team by the country’s Olympic Committee. Despite his unorthodox methods and many challenges, Brooks successfully puts together the US Olympic ice hockey team and leads them to victory. A heartwarming, feel-good film, Miracle is one of those films that, despite the lack of plot twists and turns, is still a good watch.
3. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the 2013 Hindi film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag portrays the life of legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh, who passed away on June 18 this year. Farhan Akhtar brings to life Milkha’s character, starting at the 1960 Olympic Games and then revisiting the athlete’s unhappy and harsh growing up years. The movie also reveals the hardships and struggles of the people of Pakistan and India as a result of the Partition. Through running, ‘The Flying Sikh’ makes a name for himself, catapulting himself into international sporting tracks. A profoundly moving piece of cinema, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is not merely a sports film, but it also captures one among the many harrowing stories caused by the Partition.
4. Foxcatcher (2014)
Sweeping nomination after nomination and receiving critical acclaim, Foxcatcher is a film that reveals the darker side of sports. Starring Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, the film is about Olympic champions and brothers Mark and Dave Schultz. The film begins in 1987; the brothers are Olympic wrestling champions following their win at the 1984 Games. Mark struggles with the feeling of being overshadowed by his brother Dave and engages in self-destructive habits, which are encouraged by Du Pont, a wealthy patron who invites the brothers to be part of his wrestling team, Foxcatcher. Carell brings to life the character of Du Pont, an erratic and almost maniacal man whose actions bring harm to the Schultz brothers. A compelling dark, twisted work from director Bennett Miller, the film is sure to keep one hooked till the end.
5. I, Tonya (2017)
The hilarious 2017 American film I, Tonya stars Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Alison Janey in pivotal roles. The film makes for an engaging watch, with its mockumentary style comedic interviews and the breaking of the fourth wall. The film follows the rise and fall of figure skater Tonya Harding. Harding failed to achieve a podium finish for the Olympic Games, placing eighth in the 1994 Winter Games. Her real-life Olympic skate sequences and costumes were replicated in the film. Director Craig Gillespie delivers an unapologetically loud and spirited film, perfect for when you need a pick-me-up.
(Rivi Joseph is an intern with IndianExpress.com based in Thiruvananthapuram)
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