Happy Olympics, Columbia! It’s that time again for (undangerous) nationalism and spectacle and sport. To help get you in the spirit, Weekend Rental correspondent Brandon Hammer has suggested three Olympics films. GO USA!
Chariots of Fire (1981): [Cue the theme music.] Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire is perhaps the epitome of the classic Olympics movie. It’s based on the true story of two British runners who competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), both of whom attempt to use running in order for some greater purpose. On the one hand, Abrahams, the son of a Jewish immigrant, wants to do well in order to spite society’s prevalent anti-Semitism. Liddell, on the other hand, as an ardent Christian and Scot, wants to compete because he feels it is necessary to fulfill God’s will. Even, according to Roger Ebert, if you don’t like running movies, it’s still a very inspiring film.
Cool Runnings (1993): Cool Runnings is hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable. Based again on a true story in five Jamaican men who seek respect in the face of complete resentment and disdain from the world community by forming a bobsled team. They train in order to compete at the 1988 Calgary winter games, despite the fact that there is no snow in Jamaica, in fact, the mention of winter provokes character to remark, “You mean ‘winter’ as in Eskimos and igloos and penguins and ice?”.
Munich (2005): While this Spielberg film is not really about any Olympic competition or sporting event, it’s a reminder that while the world appears to take a break from politics during the Olympics, political tensions lie just beneath the surface. Beginning with an incredibly powerful recount of how Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization, captured and eventually murdered Israeli Olympic athletes at the 1972 Munich games, the film’s main focus is Israel’s response. The leader of Israel’s Massad response team, played by Eric Bana, is assigned to assassinate those responsible for the attacks. In hunting down different suspects, however, he begins to question the legitimacy of his actions. Though it certainly did not get enough praise when it originally came out, Munich is an essential film for the Olympics.