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Movies of the Month: 2002, Page 2

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December 2002:

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Running On The Sun:
The Road to Hell is 135 Miles Long

1999, 100 minutes. The Badwater 135, the equivalency of five back-to-back marathons, eschews the trappings of traditional races. There are no cheering crowds. There is no monetary reward. There is little media attention or applause. Often, there is no end in sight. Instead, the runners rely on themselves for motivation, comfort and determination. The only tangible prize, awarded for completing the race in under 48 hours, is a belt buckle, a coveted symbol of achievement among ultra-runners.The body weathers extreme environmental conditions throughout the race. Runners are constantly challenged with temperatures ranging from 38║F to 125║F, 50 mph heated head winds, two 5,000-foot climbs, and a finish line located 8,400 feet up Mt. Whitney in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. Most competitors will run, walk and crawl for two continuous days and nights to reach the finish line. With every passing mile, runners face increasingly greater risks of dehydration, muscle strain, vomiting, sun stroke and kidney failure. One of the most insidious ailments, though, are the hallucinations. Racers have been plagued by visions of UFO's crashing into the road, giant chasms opening up in the highway, and phantom detour signs.One third of the competitors will fail. But for the most persevering runners, a great personal victory awaits them at the finish line. After 135 miles, the runners have completed a mythic journey, overcoming the obstacles of nature, fellow competitors and, most of all, themselves.

The 13 runners featured in this movie include:
  • Chris Moon: A 37 year old former British soldier who lost his lower leg while clearing landmines in Mozambique.
  • Kirk Johnson: A New York Times journalist who runs in tribute to his brother who committed suicide.
  • Maria DeJesus: She took out a bank loan to compete and lived in a tent in Britain's Jersey Islands while she trained.
  • Eric Clifton: He wants the course record and has been training 100 miles a week and has not missed a day of running in 5 years. Last year he did not finish, what will happen this year?
  • Lisa Smith: With three previous finishes and a course record in the past will she complete yet another Badwater 135 in record time?
  • Daniel Jensen: Now age 50, he lost his lower leg to a landmine in 1971 in Vietnam.
  • Adam Bookspan: This 33 year old race walker is a trumpet player for the Miami Philharmonic and is raising money for breast cancer.
  • Jack Denness: Now 64, he has seven prior finishes under his belt. How long can he go?
  • Nick Palazzo: This 52 year old trained 100 miles a week to prepare for the race.
  • Gabriel Flores: The 1998 winner with a record time of 28 hours and 9 minutes. Can he beat his own previous mark?
  • Major Curt Maples: This United States Marine Corps officers' 3rd attempt to complete this race. Will this be his year at last?
  • Angelika Castaneda: Can this 56 year old expert scuba diver do just as well on land?
  • Ephraim Romesburg: At 68 this retired nuclear engineer is the oldest entrant this year.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to push yourself to the limits, this film is a must for you to see. Obtain your DVD format production from Amazon.com. There are many pointers you can gain, that will aid any runner who wants to run an ultra-marathon, from training, support services from your crew, as well as foot care and mental strategies. To obtain a host of information, such as results, photos, essays, training tips, and much more, visit the Official Badwater Site. The Badwater 135 is not just a race, and this film is no ordinary motion picture.

See other Ultra Running films.


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November 2002:

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The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)

This motion picture is included in this filmography because of the importance of a short running scene that allows Atanarjuat to escape a certain death as he runs naked across the ice. During the credits at the end of the film continue watching and be amazed at how this footage was captured by the film crew. You may obtain your own copy of this movie in both DVD or VHS format from Amazon.com.

Filmed in Canada and presented in the Inuktitut language this film, with a run time of 2 hours 52 minutes, premiered across Canada on April 12, 2001 then in Europe on May 13, 2001. The release date was limited to Los Angeles and New York City in the United States when it opened June 7, 2002. This production is Canada's Official Selection for Foreign Language Oscar« and won 6 Genie Awards.

Here is the story line: Evil in the form of a mysterious, unknown shaman enters a small community of nomadic Inuit and upsets its balance and spirit of cooperation. The stranger leaves behind a lingering curse of bitterness and discord: after the camp leader Kumaglak is murdered, the new leader Sauri drives his old rival Tulimaq down through mistreatment and ridicule. Years pass. Power begins to change when the resentful Tulimaq has two sons - Amaqjuaq, the Strong One, and Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner. As the camp's best hunters they provoke jealousy and rage in their rival, Oki, the leader's ill-tempered son. When Atanarjuat wins away Oki's promised wife-to-be, the beautiful Atuat, in a head punching competition, Oki vows to get even. Egged on by his intimidating father, Oki and his friends plot to murder both brothers while they sleep. Amaqjuaq is speared through their tent and killed, but Atanarjuat miraculously escapes, running naked for his life across the spring sea ice. Eluding his pursuers with supernatural help, Atanarjuat is hidden and nursed back to health by an old couple who themselves fled the evil camp years before. After an inner struggle to reclaim his spiritual path, and with the guidance of his elder advisor, Atanarjuat learns to face both natural and supernatural enemies, and heads home to rescue his family. Will he continue the bloody cycle of revenge, or restore harmony to the community?

Extensive information can be found at the official web site. Watch the trailer and clips from Lot 47 films. To read a review select from more than 110 articles available, including three critiques in franšais.


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October 2002:

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New York City Marathon
Presented by Runner’s World

55 athletes finished the four laps of central park to complete the first New York City Marathon in 1970. Now, after more than 30 years, people from more than 100 countries, who speak over 40 languages, line up to run through the five boroughs to complete this annual event with 30,000+ participants. In this 30 minute video from 1991 you will have the opportunity to see much of the course and relive some of the rich history of athletes who have excelled in the New York City Marathon.

You will get glimpses of the three start areas at the Varrazano-Narrows Bridge, travel through 11 miles of Brooklyn, and progress over the Queensboro bridge to enter Manhattan. The 20-mile mark is reached in the Bronx, and complete the last 3 miles in and around Central Park, ending at Tavern on the Green. Computer graphics outline the course at the start to provide an orientation and feel for the elevation changes, especially the climb over the first 1.5 miles. There are many scenes of the masses of runners from helicopters. A tip is offered by host Marty Liquori for the downhill from miles 16 to 20, "Enjoy the crowds, take in the scene, but by all means conserve your energy; there is still lots of running to be done."

Marty Liquori introduces some of the greatest athletes and battles over this course from the mid 1970's to the late 1980's. Some of the featured milestones include:

  • Bill Rodgers Three time winner from 1976 to 1979 with a best of 2:10:10 on this course. "Running represents something where there are no barriers. We don't need someone else's ok, it just represents, I think, a lot of ways for people to push themselves. The marathon is an ultimate event where people can find out."
  • Allison Roe: The 1981 winner from New Zealand who established a World's Record of 2:25:29. "The atmosphere was just electric. I remember basically my mind powering my way through that part and really didn't feel anything until I stopped".
  • Alberto Salazar: This confident runner from Oregon won three years in a row (1980-1982) with a World's Best of 2:08:14 in 1981. He describes his race strategy in the 1982 battle with Rodolfo Gomez from Mexico: "The last four miles I throw a lot of surges". Salazar finally pulls away for the victory.
  • Grete Waitz: Race director Fred Lebow invited her to run this race, longer than any distance she had previously run. She won the New York City Marathon nine times between 1978 and 1988 setting a world's records on her first outing in 2:32:29 and again the following two years. "I remember that the first thing I said to him (Lebow), 'This is the first and last time I run the marathon ever again. So that was my first experience running the marathon'."
  • Ron Dixon: The 1983 duel with Geoff Smith is featured. "I decided that the only way I was going to get any recognition was to go out there and see if I could run a marathon. And of course, that's what I did, and in 2:08:59 I suddenly was recognized after running for about 16 years.
In addition to the athletes and course there is also some coverage of the application process, the international breakfast run of two miles that has 10,000 participants, the pasta party, volunteers in action, and the participation from the Achilles Track Club athletes. This film was produced by Ambrose Salmini and and was at one time distributed through his site, Sport Film.com, in either VHS or DVD format. This marathon is the featured event of the New York Road Runner's Club and after you watch this film you may want to go to their official web site to see about the lottery process to apply to run in the New York City Marathon.


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September 2002:

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Legends of Hayward Field

Bill Dellinger calls this field, that is located in Eugene at the University of Oregon, "the Carnegie Hall of Track and Field." Included in this tape is a wide variety of references to those who have competed at this location as well as the impact Hayward Field has had on running as a sport. The six head coaches are covered, as is the greatest athletes to compete here. Dyrol Burleson was the first athlete to run under 4-minutes in the mile at this field and Oregon miler Jim Bailey is shown being the first person to break the mark in the United States (when he raced John Landy in 1956 at the LA Coliseum). Field events, women athletes, track surfaces, and Olympic Trials are all remembered. This 1991 documentary, produced by Media Craft Associates, with a running time of 28-minutes, can still be obtained from Think Video.com in either NTSC, PAL, or SECAM format.

Near the end of the of this production each of the Hayward Field athletes are highlighted (with the use of still images) who have obtained an Olympic medal, American or World Record. The list includes: Martin Hawkins: 1912, Olympic Bronze, High Hurdles, 15.3. Ralph Hill: 1932, Silver medal, 5,000 meters, 14:30.0, (Same time as winner Lauri Lehtinen of Finland in a controversial finish). Matthew "Mack" Robinson: 1936, Silver, 200 meters, 21.1. Otis Davis: 1960, 2 x Olympic Gold: 400 meter 44.9, 4x400 relay, 3:02.2. Initially a basketball player, he became the first person under 45 seconds in this event. Bill Dellinger: 1964, Bronze medal, 5,000 meters, 13:49.8 in his third Olympiad. Joaquim Cruz: 1984, 800 meters, Gold; 1:43.00; 1988 Silver, 1:43.90. Roscoe Cook: World Records in 1959 and 1960 and an additional American Record in 1961. Harry Jerome: This Canadian equaled the World Record of 10.0 in the 100 meters. He tore a hamstring during a semifinal heat in the Rome Olympics and won a bronze in Tokyo in 1964 behind Bob Hayes. Dyrol Burleson: World Record in 1961 and several American Records from 1960 to 1962. Wade Bell: American Record in 1967 and World Record in 1968. Steve Prefontaine: 13 American Records set between 1971 to 1975. Arguably the most famous University of Oregon track athlete. Rudy Chapa: American Record 1979. Matt Centrowitz: American Record 1982. Alberto Salazar: Three American Records 1982.

Some quotes from just a few of the many coaches and athletes who are interviewed:
  • "It’s a community effort. It really affects the athletes that come into our great track meets. They say everybody understands what’s happening here." ~Bill Bowerman
  • "It was a dream of mine to come here some day. I’d heard about the great bond between the crowds and the runners. How the crowds would chant and stomp their feet in unison as the runner went round and round the track. I think what makes Hayward Field so special is that you get people out there in the stands who have grown up on track and field. They are very knowledgeable. They know what’s going on and they have a love for the sport." ~Alberto Salazar
  • "I had a couple of races in my career were the crowd got going and the competition was tight and everyone was screaming and it was as if your own will was suspended and the crowd’s wishes just took over." ~Kenny Moore
  • "From its humble origins in 1895, to its present status as the nations finest track in the running capital of the world, Hayward Field has been a clear sample of man’s continual search for excellence, sportsmanship, endurance, and Olympic comradery. But its history has only just begun. Its horizons are expanding for the young runners who will one day become part of the legends of Hayward Field." ~Narrator
Note: To see other productions that uses Hayward Field as a backdrop read the Focus On Article entitled Hayward Field.


August 2002:

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Visions of Eight

This film is often referred to in the same sentence as other great Olympic documentaries such as Olympia and Tokyo Olympiad. David Wolper blends the music of Henry Mancini with introductions by each of the eight directors as they present their themed video segments from the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Olympic history was set as 7,830 competitors came from 122 nations to attended the games. This film was presented "In memory of the eleven slain Israeli athletes, tragic victims of the violence of our times." Although Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment released a VHS copy in 1980 this film is considered rare and is not currently available from distributors. Search online auctions and long standing video stores for your opportunity to view this fantastic collection of shorts. The film opens with this statement written on the screen: "Sunflowers are familiar to millions, yet no one ever saw them the way Vincent Van Gogh did. So with the Olympics: A recurring spectacle familiar to people around the world. This is no chronological record, no summary of winners and losers. Rather it is the separate visions of eight singular film artists."

The Beginning. Juri Ozerov (U.S.S.R.). "I'm interested in that moment before the contest begins. It's then that the athlete realizes that he is alone out there without friends, trainers, or teammates. The tension of waiting is the most interesting." 5:00 minutes.

The Strongest. Mai Zetterling (Sweden). "I chose weight lifting because I know nothing about it and I suppose one thing that really fascinated me was that these men work in almost total isolation. And then they are obsessed. They don't seem to have any life apart from lifting. I am not interested in sports, but I am interested in obsessions." 13:00.

The Highest. Arthur Penn (United States). There is no introduction by director Penn. Here the pole vault is captured in slow motion and without any sound for the first three minutes. There is extrodinary use of the camera in this segment. 12:30.

The Women. Michael Pfleghar (Germany). "At the first Olympic games women were not allowed to be present, even as spectators, but here in Munich we had the greatest number of women competitors in the history of the games. I wanted to acknowledge their presence and their contributions." See women sprinting, hurdling, high jumping, swimming, and competing in gymnastics.11:30.

The Fastest. Kon Ichikawa (Japan). "The men who compete in the 100 meter final cover the distance in about ten seconds. To catch this fleeting moment I used 34 cameras and 20,000 feet of film. I feel this race somewhat represents the modern human existence. I wanted to expose this." In stunning use of slow motion footage, 22 year old Valery Borzov of the Soviet Union wins the gold; Robert Taylor of the United States takes silver; and Lennox Miller of Jamaica, captures the bronze medal. 6:00.

The Decathlon. Milos Forman (Czechoslovakia). "Ever since I was a young boy it was my dream to see the Olympics. That is I guess why I did this picture. I got to see the Olympics free and I had the best seats at the events." Each event gets it's own unique musical score as the athletes compete to exhaustion. The gold will go to Nikolai Avilov as he scores 8454 points. 16:00.

The Losers. Claude Lelouch (France). "At some point in life everyone must learn to live with defeat. I wanted to see how each person accepts that fact. How the losers meet their certain loneliness." 15:00.

The Longest. John Schlesinger (Great Britain).
"I was fascinated by the individual effort of the marathon runner. Training alone for years for a 26 mile race and competing finally with so much more than the race itself." Although 34 year old Ron Hill from Great Britain is one of the race favorites and is featured strongly, it is Frank Shorter who gets congratulated by teammate Kenny Moore as he lead Karel Lismont and Mamo Wolde into the stadium for the victory on this day. Images from this race are captivating and the end of the marathon completes the end of the fifteenth Olympiad from Munich, Germany. 20:00.


July 2002:

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Jim Ryun: America's Greatest Miler

This one hour video is set with Jim Ryun and his long time coach Bob Timmons, being interviewed from the infield of the 1996 Kansas Relay. They review nearly 10 years of Ryun's running career from a sophomore in high school, through college at the University of Kansas, and beyond. You will learn that Ryun's loss of hearing often made it difficult to hear the splits given during the races. He discusses how he became sick during the Tokyo Olympiad where he first realized the significance of the Olympic games. Stories are shared of grinding spikes down to move from cinder to clay surfaces, cutting his foot on a pop bottle, as well as how this young athlete coped with the pressure from the media. Ryun shares his experience of winning the Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Sullivan Award, and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Ryun shares being elected to Congress in 1996 as well as how faith played a strong role in his life experiences.

Narrator John Holt sets the stage well as other interviews are introduced between the actual race footage and many other guests. Coach J.D. Edmiston took over from Timmons during Ryun's senior year in high school and he shares the pressures present with such high demands from the press. KU teammate Gene McLain reports how the mindset of athletes changed after Ryun broke four minutes in high school. Rich Clarkson had special access in covering the races, both as a photojournalist and as a confidant. Marty Liquori, the second high school athlete to break the barrier, describes the highly anticipated races between them. Jim Grelle and Peter Snell also share their impressions from the big meets. Ann Ryun shares how they met and later joined in marriage in 1969. After watching this video you will feel that you truly relived this unique decade of middle distance running and spectacular achievement.

20 races are featured from March of 1963 to the 1972 Olympic Games. Some of the highlights include:
  • June 1964, Compton Relays in Los Angeles, California. As a Junior in high school Ryun became the first athlete to run under four minutes in the mile, clocking 3:59. He ran a total of five mile races under four minutes while in high school.
  • May 1965, Kansas State Championships, Wichita, Kansas. Ran 3:58.3 to become the only athlete to run under four minutes in the mile in an all high school competition.
  • June 1965, AAU National Championships, San Diego, California. Beat world record holder Peter Snell and clocked a personal best 3:55.3. This high school record stood until Alan Webb improved the mark in May 2001.
  • June 1966, Terra Toute, Indiana. Set a world record at 880 yards: 1:44.9. Coach Timmons is not sure what his best event may be.
  • July 1966, Berkley, California. One mile world record of 3:51.3, lowering the mark by 2.3 seconds that was held by Michel Jazy.
  • June 1967, Bakersfield, California. Jim McKay announces as the one mile mark is lowered to 3:50.9. Ryun states that this was "one of the easiest races I've ever ran."
  • July 1967, Los Angeles, California. With his last lap in 53.3 Ryun sets a world record in the 1500 meters of 3:33.1 while defeating Kip Keino.
  • September 1968, Mexico City Olympic Games. Ryun takes the silver medal in 3:37.8 behind Kip Keino from Kenya.
  • June 1972, Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. After placing fourth in the 800 meters, Ryun wins the 1500 meter event to qualify for his third Olympic experience.
  • September 1972, Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Ryun falls during a heat, and although he finishes the race he does not advance to the next round of competition.
This video has been sold by several outlets in the past, and the supplies generally have sold out rather quickly. Consider yourself lucky if you can find this tape used at Amazon.com or from one of the auction sites (such as eBay) if you want to add this video to your personal collection. Ryun offers summer running camps and at his website, Ryun Running.com, you can learn more about this amazing athlete as well as watch three of the races mentioned above in Quicktime video format.


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