10 Seconds To Win Gold,
2 Hrs and 14 Minutes To Win Hearts
This is a heart warming tale of an Olympian, Jesse Owens, a young man who struggles to achieve his dreams of becoming a champion athlete and he does, winning not just the race against the competitors from around the world but also the race of color which meant all kinds of discrimination and victimization. It's a movie that deserves to be seen, tax-free.
'In those ten seconds, there is no black or white, there is only win or lose.' Jesse explains to the man from NAACP who is trying to persuade Jesse from refraining participation in the Berlin Olympics to show solidarity with oppressed Black people in America and others discriminated against elsewhere.
You have seen how awful, vicious and rampant the discrimination against African American people was in so many movies. Even today America has not been able to offer true equality and is struggling to support equal rights with hashtags like Black Lives Matter. We Indians can be just as racist and casteist and communal. So this movie brings us all a message of hope and is like a prayer because it puts sports above such petty politics. In fact, when Carl 'Luz' Long, the European Champion behaves like all sportsmen should, you feel a lump in your throat.
A Black man winning not one but four gold medals at the Olympics, right under the superior nose of Adolf Hitler was a slap to the Reich. And the architect of the games Joseph Goebbles (is it legal for the bloke playing him to be so handsome!) makes his displeasure felt as he forces the Americans to drop the two Jewish athletes...
But what keeps you glued to the seat is the marvelous coach-student relationship. Jason Sudeikis is Larry Snyder, coach at the Ohio State University. He makes Jesse into the winner that he becomes. The journey of the coach - who could have been an Olympian, and the student - who could be an Olympian if he does not allow the pressures from his family, his Race get in the way of winning, is amazing.
We watched 'Bhaag Milkha Bhag' not so long ago and some of us came back hating the song and dance and the extended romance in what was meant to be a sports movie. But when you see Jesse Owens wait in the rains to persuade his reluctant girl to marry him, you want to go step into the story, right into the shop and ask her why she's making him wait out in the rain for so long.
Hollywood knows how to keep even the training simple and believable. Easier to believe Jesse running through a dingy neighborhood than watching Bollywood Milkha Singh drag a tyre in picturesque Ladakh.
The politics of Olympics at that time in America is shown marvelously as a debate between Jeremy Irons and William Hurt. Both sides present a logical argument. But even better is how Hitler's personal favorite Leni Riefenstahl is shown negotiating between Goebbels and the Americans.
Yes, it is a predictable tale of a sports person. But what is worthy is watching how impeccable his manners are, and how he has to fight a battle to remain honorable throughout his life. Jesse Owens was not recognised by his nation as amazing once, I hope he will earn much more now that his story is being told, and so beautifully.