The true story of Bob Champion, a British steeple chase jockey who, in the late 1970s, was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than succumb to the disease, however, Bob stages a miraculous ...
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The true story of Bob Champion, a British steeple chase jockey who, in the late 1970s, was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than succumb to the disease, however, Bob stages a miraculous recovery and goes on to win the 1981 Grand National steeple chase on the horse Aldaniti. Written by
Jonathan Broxton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The tiny silver horseshoe 'lucky charm' was not given to Bob Champion by Jo Beswick when she visited him in hospital. It was sent to him by a couple from Cheltenham, with instructions that he should carry it in the race. See more »
Whatever happens, however long it takes, you're my first jockey, and your job will stay open. That's a promise.
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Lovely true story which serves as an inspiration to us all.
Cinema audiences have always enjoyed sporting dramas in which the underdog triumphs against the odds. Champions goes one step further in that it takes its plot from the true story of Bob Champion, an English jockey whose quest to win the Grand National was jeopardised by health problems to himself and his horse. The film is very conventional and workmanlike in its approach, but it tells such a remarkable story (if it wasn't a true story, you'd accuse it of being too far-fetched) that it's hard not to find it alternately absorbing, moving and inspiring.
Bob Champion (John Hurt) is a successful jockey who learns that a swollen bruise picked up in a horse fall has turned cancerous. Initially believing that he will be treated quickly and painlessly and back in the saddle in next to no time, Champion soon finds his plans in tatters as the illness is diagnosed as much more serious than originally thought. After months of chemotherapy and drugs, he emerges from hospital a thin, weak, pale, aged shell of his former self. He can barely walk, barely ride a pony around a patch of garden, barely feel a thing. Against the odds, Champion pushes himself to the limit to restore his health. However, during his illness his favourite horse, Aldaniti - aboard which he dreams of having a crack at the Grand National - suffers a severe injury. Can both man and horse get fit in time for the most gruelling race of them all? And even if they recover in time to enter, do they have a chance in hell of winning?
Hurt is excellent as Champion, a not-always likable man who often upset those around him in his stubborn yet determined journey to the Grand National. The scenes of Champion's treatment are quite punishing and vividly show a man on the brink of despair. Just as effective is the exciting climax in which Champion's fairy-tale comeback becomes a reality. There are some overly-stylised slow motion scenes of horses galloping across the horizon which don't feel quite right in this film, and some of the subsidiary characters are under-developed, but these are the only significant flaws in an otherwise well-made film. If you don't find yourself emotionally stirred when Champion races his way into everyones' hearts - as well as the history books - check your pulse... you may be dead!!!
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