By Lyle Foster
Unite Contributing Writer
I don’t want to sound nostalgic but sometimes we bemoan the state of things in our country today and I am one of the first to say there is a lot of improvement needed but there is a perspective to be gained from learning our history. It is obviously intentional that the movie Race came out during Black History month but it is a great way to close out the month and hopefully start the next one. Hopefully you know that this is the story of Jesse Owens who at one time was the fastest man alive. The story which is a true one is in this case much more than important than the acting and the plot and the direction of the movie. Many of us know the basic highlights of Jesse Owens life but usually there is always something else to learn. Stephan James stars in this film and it is the second attempt to show the life of Jesse Owens. His biggest claim to fame of course is winning a record breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The film highlights his life at Ohio State University and his selection to go to the Olympics. We get to see his courtship and the beginnings of his family.
The acting is not the strongest that I have ever seen and the plot development and cinematography in some spots I feel could be strengthened. Initial reviews of the film are mixed but it did come in sixth on its opening weekend. But as I said earlier any weakness is far and above made up by the compelling story of Jesse Owens.
Any student of history knows that for a black man to break the records and to be the first made him a lightning bolt in the midst of a very tense racial climate. If one adds to this the white supremacist views of the Nazi regime and the 1936 games being held in Berlin we have a growing tale of suspense. The Nazis hoped to showcase the top German athletes in their home country and further their hateful doctrine.
Not only did Jesse Owens spoil the big party but he had to overcome more than incredible odds to make that happen.
There are a few thrills and a few chills but most important this is a story that needs to be told over and over and appreciated.
Movies like this are nice to watch and we realize for a quick moment that there have been many amazing heroes along the way and then we go back to our routine. But maybe the story of Jesse Owens is a bit more special because he showed the world the power of a natural talent and defied the very face of evil. And in doing so he not only opened the door he changed history. And isn’t that what it is all about. With the 2016 Olympics on the horizon we don’t even give a thought to the very diverse teams that come from the United States and all around the world. But it was not always that way. Jewish athletes from the United States also experienced blatant discrimination as a part of the relay team.
If you are familiar with the story of Jesse Owens it still would be great to learn something else about his tremendous legacy. If you don’t know the story the movie Race is your chance to learn it and share with a new generation that has experienced many of the benefits.
I left knowing that Mr. Owens is a real hero and his story has inspired me once again.
91 out of 100