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Prefontaine (1997)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  24 January 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 5,342 users   Metascore: 56/100
Reviews: 37 user | 21 critic | 15 from

Based on the life of Olympic hopeful Steve Prefontaine, a long distance runner who lived in Oregon and died young


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Pre" embodied the spirit of athletic excellence. He had a belief in self and sport that transcended all but the outer reaches of human speed and endurance. As a freshman, he appeared on the... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pat Tyson
Elaine Finley
Adrian Amadeus ...
Finnish Teammate
Ryan Brewer ...
12 year old kid
Young Pre
Kevin Calabro ...
3rd Airport Reporter
George Catalano ...
Patron #1


Life and times of Steve Prefontaine, a young long-distance runner from Oregon who pursued the dream of Olympic gold in Munich and became one of the biggest, yet most tragic sport stars in America. Written by Dragan Antulov <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He beat the odds... And became a legend!

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »




Release Date:

24 January 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Harc a másodpercekért  »

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$311,253 (USA) (24 January 1997)


$532,190 (USA) (31 January 1997)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Most of the film was shot in Washington state. However, there were some scenes that were also shot in Oregon, the home state in which Steve Prefontaine grew up for most of his life. See more »


During the football scene at the start of the movie, Steve puts his helmet, which has no side ear pads. A moment later, when he is on the ground after being hit, his helmet has side ear pads. See more »


[first lines]
Bill Bowerman: Pre turned distance running into a blood sport. You wanna know what he meant to folks around here? What was it
Bill Bowerman: kids said back then? "You just had to be there."
See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.145 (2010) See more »


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User Reviews

Excellent Sports Film
12 July 2002 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

I saw this last night on the BBC--I don't think it ever had a theatrical release in Britain--and thought it was excellent. I remember this film and its rival, Without Limits, when they were released in 1997 but never saw them. Users have commented on how much this film resembled the '70's era, right down to the soundtrack and overall style of the film, as if that kind of authenticity is to its detriment. It does remind one of that '70's TV movie classic, Brian's Song, but then, what other era should this film resemble?! It's no surprise that the documentary storytelling style works so well since the director and writer, Steve James, made one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the '90's--the basketball flik, Hoop Dreams (highly recommended as well). But shooting a documentary and recreating the style of one are two different things and though they probably both have their perils, recreating that style in service to drama must have much steeper pitfalls. Steve James (and company) completely succeed here. Jared Leto gives a compelling performance as Pre and forces the viewer to sympathise with him in very unique ways. He's not immensely likable but when he understands that great athletic performers, like Steve Prefontaine, did not win races on personality alone. But it's the way that the rest of cast responds to him, their admiration completely palpable and on the surface, that moves the viewer to embrace him as well. He's heartbreaking when he asks, "Do I look like a runner?" American sports films usually obscure their central figures by ladling on heavy doses of heavy-handed inspiration. Not so with this film. Pre emerges a gifted, young, confused but determined individual who inspires not through his athletic performances but through the strength of his character and what he did for amateur athletics. The ending doesn't so much jerk tears from the viewer as it allows them to flow freely and copiously. An underrated, lost gem of a film.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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