Friday, December 15, 2017

Eddie the Eagle

It’s always a little odd to watch a movie about a time you clearly remember. The 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary: Husband can remember learning the anthem in school orchestra and I sang it in choir. This is part of recent history.

Even so, memories fade and while I recalled Michael Edwards (Eddie the Eagle), the British ski jumper; the details eluded me, particularly what he actually did and did not achieve. So for me there was still some tension as the story unfolded.

We all enjoyed it: the likeability of Eddie, his never doubting determination to go to the Olympics and his working-class family background with a supportive mother and frustrated father. Once he realised he could not be a summer athlete, he turns his attentions to winter sports. Losing out on the downhill skiing team, he sets his sight on being the only British ski jumper. The British Olympic Committee want nothing to do with him and set the distance to jump higher than they think he can manage, but with perseverance and the addition of a mentor Bronson Peary (greatly acted by Hugh Jackman), Eddie goes on to prove them wrong.

There is one uncomfortable moment for family viewing, as Peary vividly describes to Eddie that a ski jump should mirror the emotions of a climax. There are mild echoes of the restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally: younger children won’t really get it, but teens probably will.

It was obviously a memorable Olympics with the Jamaican bobsled team providing the inspiration for the 1993 film Cool Runnings (we might turn to that soon too). Rules have been changed since and we don’t seem to have these ‘outsiders’ in the Olympics anymore. Edwards has been quoted as saying that the movie is only about 5% accurate and even Peary is a completely fictional character.

I quite liked this quote from the Huffington Post:
This movie focuses on the good times in his life. It's fun and it's inspirational. A real movie reviewer would no doubt come up with better adjectives but those are the best I've got. But so what? Fun and inspirational should never be under-valued. As I said, three generations of my family loved this film. You can't believe most of it, but you can believe in it. That's a subtle but important difference.
It was a fun one.

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