Friday, 1 September 2017

Eddie the Eagle (5 Stars)

Is there a good reason I only gave this film a four star rating last time I watched it? If there is I don't know what it is. This is the best sports film I've ever seen. It's the story of an underdog, like "Rocky", but the difference is that while "Rocky" ended with Rocky Balboa becoming a champion, "Eddie the Eagle" ends with Eddie Edwards finishing last in two events in the Olympic Games.

Nevertheless, it's a true story, and Eddie was praised as a hero throughout the world, not only in his home country of Great Britain. The story is so absurd that it's difficult to believe it, unless, like me, you're old enough to remember it happening in 1988. In fact, if you asked me to name athletes who took part in the 1988 Winter Olympics I could only tell you one name: Eddie Edwards.

Eddie gave inspiration to millions of people by living up to a statement by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Olympic Games, in 1896:

"The important thing in the Olympic Games is not the winning but the taking part".

It was Eddie's dream to be an Olympic athlete from his early childhood. It didn't matter what sport it was, as long as he could go to the Olympics. He tried sport after sport without success. Finally he picked ski jumping, because he thought it would easy to qualify. He was right. The Olympic rules allowed each country to send at least one athlete for each sport, and there were no other competitive ski jumpers in Britain. Eddie qualified for the Olympic Games with a jump of 34 meters, even though the current world record was 191 meters.

The British Olympic Association expected Eddie to be an embarrassment and tried to block his participation by changing the rules, but it was too late to stop him. Eddie was going to the Olympics. He finished last in his two events, the 70 meter jump and the 90 meter jump, but he won the hearts of the audience. The press gave him the nickname Eddie the Eagle. When Frank King, the president of the Olympic organising committee, addressed the athletes in the closing speech, he only singled out one athlete:

"You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. Some of you have even soared like an eagle".

Taron Egerton puts on a spotless performance as Eddie, awkward but immediately likeable. Hugh Jackman is also excellent as Eddie's coach, Bronson Peary. Petra, the owner of a bar at the ski jumping training facility in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, is played by Iris Berben, one of Germany's most famous actresses.

Iris might have been 65 years old when she appeared in the film, but doesn't she still look heavenly? How could Eddie have resisted her physical advances. On the other hand, I doubt that the real life Petra was as attractive as Iris.

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