Sunday, 8 July 2012

Endurance DVD review

Haile Gebrsellasie is heralded as one of the greatest athletes of all time.  Holder of 27 different world records, and hailed as the greatest long distance runner ever.  Haile hails from Ethiopia, one of the smaller African nations.

In contrast to the powerhouse of Kenyan running, with its amazing ability to have up to 8 different runners vying for just three places at major championships. Haile for a time seemed to be out on his own, one man racing for his nation against the might of another (Not too dissimilar to the race Mo Farah will face at the Olympics this summer).

Born as one of ten children, Haile had to run 10km to school every morning like most children in African countries to garner the better education.  Haile came to prominence with Gold at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, he subsequently retained that title in the next 3 world championships coupled with his first Gold medal at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996.

Haile was blessed by being born in a great era of long distance running; helped by great rivals such as Moses Kiptanui (Kenya) and Paul Tergat (Kenya) who he narrowly beat in Sydney to retain his 10,000m title - only the third man to do so.

Haile was blessed with having the ability to consistently run sub 60 second laps whilst also having an amazing kick in the last 200m which could overtake rivals or leave them for dust.

The film Endurance revolves around Gebreselassie upbringing in Ethiopia, what he means to people of the country and his triumph in Atlanta in attaining legendary status.

The film is beautifully shot showing the natural landscapes of Ethiopia as a mix of fairytale and harshness; it shows a young boy following in the footsteps of Gebreselassie on his way to school.  The film then intercuts footage of the legendary athlete in Atlanta as he overtakes rivals on the bend in the American heat; with native countrymen huddling round a television to witness history.

Whilst the film has a story that should be told and shared with future generations, it unfortunately does the mistake of attempting to mythologise Gebreselassie when the legend speaks for itself.

Quick sidenote, a producer is one Terence Malick who must have liked the mixture of nature with a man and how that nature makes the person who he becomes.

Endurance is directed by Leslie Woodhead, and is available from Second Sight Film on DVD from Monday 9th July

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