<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Stephen Hopkins. Starring Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, Carice van Houten, Shanice Banton, David Kross, Barnaby Metschurat
Running Time: 2 hours 14 minutes
A beautifully made film about a time when the Nazis were persecuting the Jews and the white Americans subjugated the African Americans and one man ran to try and change all that.
His name was actually James Cleveland Owens but his family called him JC and that got morphed into Jesse. This young black man started his athletic career in 1928 and got a chance to go to college and be trained by Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis) who knew that young Jesse (Stephan James) had something in him. Well he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, so his intuition paid off.
Director Stephen Hopkins sets the time wonderfully for us: it was a period when black Americans were slowly being allowed in to mainstream America. But there were still brutal divisions and prejudices among many. At the same time Chancellor Hitler was leading up to the beginning of his insanity and the Second World War as he persecuted Jews in Germany. The American Olympic Committee had to decide whether America should boycott the games. There were two ways of looking at it: Jeremy Irons and William Hurt play men of power who were on either side of that argument.
Jesse Owens’ career was at an all-time high and he learned that nothing succeeds like success, and that it was also an equaliser of sorts. But was it enough to let him use the same entrance as the white people?
The second half of the film is interesting as it plays out on the field in Germany, where athletes become sports people who show the Nazis and the world that race and colour really mean nothing. Some chilling facts about the wickedness that was planted by Hitler are revealed and that’s the point where Race becomes more than just a sports film. That’s when the cliché is shattered.
Race is far better than this week’s The Program in that it is a great story wonderfully made into an entertaining and enlightening film.