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Four Minutes (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Interesting to compare with the 1988 version

Author: pawebster from England
25 November 2008

I was very familiar with the 1988 version (The Four Minute Mile) before seeing this newer one.

This film is less true to history, most seriously in replacing the real coach, Franz Stampfl, with the shadowy imitation one portrayed by Christopher Plummer. It also brings in Roger's future wife long before he really met her, in a crass attempt to add love interest. In addition, it somewhat misrepresents the weather problems on 6 May 1954 (see below).

This newer version also omits any depiction of Landy and Santee's efforts and turns Roger's important and illustrious friends and helpers (Chris Chataway, Chris Brasher and Norris McWhirter -- see their entries in Wikipedia) into mere cyphers.

These are serious omissions. On the other hand, this 2005 version has a much, much better Roger Bannister, which counts for a lot, given that he is the main character in the story. Jamie MacLachlan is believable as an athlete and does a great job in showing Bannister's combination of brilliance, modesty and stubbornness. He also convincingly embodies the post-war period in which the events take place (despite the garish American ties he is given to wear).

This version also does moderately well at recreating the Iffley Road track in Oxford where the key event was run. The fact that the tower of Iffley Church in the background is clearly made of something akin to cardboard is not too detrimental. Anyone who has heard Norris McWhirter speak about that day -- the overseas channel BBC Prime has shown a clip of this hundreds of times -- knows that the main problem on 6 May 1954 was the wind -- and not so much the rain, as shown here. Roger decided to run when the flag on top of Iffley Church went limp, showing that the wind had dropped. Here, the film-makers have carefully provided the church and the flag, but the latter sadly continues to flutter merrily the whole time.

There are other minor blunders, such as the wrong kind of telephones and the phrase "Get the hell out of here" ludicrously put into the mouth of a crusty old Oxford professor, but I can forgive these.

It is well worth seeing -- but try to catch the other version, too.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I was alive and well during this period

Author: ( from Canada
20 July 2006

The movie depicts reasonably accurate the event(s) leading to this achievement. Considering the passage of 50 plus years, the producers have accomplished a creditable job in their production. It should be emphasized that the part played by Christopher Plummer is pure fiction, but for entertainment purposes, understandable. Present generations should not be too critical. The event was of great significance at the time. I am happy that it has been recorded for present generations information, and to honor the participants. I was particularly impressed by the imaginative use of the location facilities in Toronto in depicting the Oxford and Princetown locale(s) The cast selection was also impressive.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Chariots of Fire Lite

Author: peter-2749 from United Kingdom
5 October 2011

Not a bad TV movie and based on a true story but cannot help wonder that it has been considerably "embellished".

There is a lot of "Chariots of Fire" in here. From the opening sequence running along the beach to the coach who can save minutes/seconds, the "reluctant" hero, the Oxbridge setting (I suppose this last bit can't be helped as both films used factual locations) but you get my drift.

Saying that, an enjoyable hour and a half of anyone's time but particularly sports fans or people who respect Sir Roger Bannister's achievements.

Although a very British subject there is not a British feel to the film and being a US TV movie it is also "sanitised" (probably a bit too much for my personal liking) but therefore suitable for a family audience.

I think the subject matter probably earns it an extra point or two in the rating as it is a great story.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Roger Runnit

Author: ed_two_o_nine from United Kingdom
2 December 2008

Let me start by stating the obvious. Yes this is a television movie (but one of the small percentage that are actually of a decent quality), and yes this is a sports movie. So with that established one would know the territory they are in very early, and what to expect along the way. However he we get all of the above but delivered with a nice reined quality by all concerned. The script and direction are good and so are the performances. The film is bases around the events leading up to Roger Bannister becoming the first man to run a sun four minute mile, and to this extent you are invested in the movie and genuinely wish him to succeed. I know an artistic liberty where taken with certain characters, but that really is for athletics historians to quibble about. Jamie Maclachan is very good as the reserved Englishmen Roger Bannister who is continuously struggling to find the right balance between his medical studies at Oxford and his athletics. There is good support leading to the inevitable yet still enjoyable conclusion. Would I watch it again? Yes but not regularly and only if I find it on television.

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Running up that hill

Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
17 November 2011

I rather enjoyed this biopic (at least up until his sub-4 minute mile triumph) of the great English athlete Roger Bannister. While athletics is more difficult than most other sports to make exciting, I thought the director did a good job employing a variety of shots to convey the excitement of the races, in particular his historic run of 6th May 1954, although one senses the omission of his pivotal failure at the 1952 Olympics was likely due to budgetary constraints, with the race instead being played out on radio - possibly archive footage could have been utilised.

The concentration on Bannister's running exploits in an already shortish running-time means the characterisations are a little light, but Jamie McLachlan, besides his strong physical resemblance to Bannister, seems to catch the spirit of an initially single-minded loner who relents on himself to make friends with his co-athletes, the two Christophers Brasher and Chataway, fall for two girls in the film and most importantly accept the coaching and encouragement of aged, retired, wheelchair-bound coach, Archie Mason well played by Christopher Plummer, although I was disappointed to learn that this was an invented character, presumably for dramatic purposes, Bannister's real coach being a perfectly healthy Austrian.

Perhaps this production treats its subject too reverently and is likewise light on characterisation. I noticed that the source book entwined Bannister's ultimate achievement with Hillary's conquering of Everest, which would explain his numerous references but for me distracted from the story here.

Evocation of place and period (the rarified atmosphere of Oxford), although you'd never know the country at large was still on rations, while there's an attractive background score skilfully interwoven into the action. The acting is good too, especially Plummer who cleverly restrains himself from hamming it up and the recreation of the famous record- breaking race is rendered convincingly.

I found this on the whole a refreshing watch, no intruding profanity, sex or violence and certainly on a level with say, "Chariots Of Fire" in terms of entertainment.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Nothing too great or inspiring.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
25 November 2008

I'm actually quite fond of sport movies and have a weak spot for it, no matter how formulaic they all are. Lots of them are the same, even though they concentrate on totally different sports. This movie is also like that but with as a difference that it also features some very sloppy and simplistic storytelling, which makes the movie seems like a totally unoriginal and uninspiring movie.

The movie actually does have an original sports story, after all it's about the man who was the first to run the mile under the 4 minute mark and he developed some new training techniques to achieve this but yet the movie and its story do not work out very original because the movie decides more to feature all kinds of different less interesting sidetracks, such as on Bannister's love life. It basically features all of the clichés from the book, which causes this movie to not work out as the most original or inspiring one the genre has to offer.

Not that it is an horrible movie, it still is a maintaining one but it also feels like a waste of such a fine and original sports story. After all, it's all based on real events and real life persons.

The story also doesn't flow very well and feels quite sloppy at times. This is mostly due to the fact that the movie tries to tell too much in a too short amount of time. The movie is only like 95 minutes short but yet it tries to put Bannister's whole athletics career into the movie. This also causes the movie its story to progress in an highly unlikely movie. I mean, just because he ran well once during a school event he's being labeled as a great talent and shortly after it he already runs the Olympics. Like I said, it all happens too fast and sudden because of it that the story tries to tell and achieve too much in a too limited time span. It causes the movie to make some big leaps at times and because of this it partly fails to bring over the story of Bannister's groundbreaking achievement in the '50's.

Further more it's obvious that the movie didn't had a big budget to spend. It's a made for TV movie, which means that the movie features some simple film-making. Nothing is out of the extraordinary and at times the movie decides not to show any of the races (such as the Olympic run), which obviously got done because of budgeting reasons and because it was virtually impossible for this movie with its limited resources to recreate an Olympics event from the past.

The acting is quite good, though Jamie Maclachlan isn't the most charismatic actor. My guess is that he got picked because he looked like the real Roger Bannister, rather than that he got picked for having the best acting skills. But it needs to be said that the movie doesn't handle his character always well. For instance, in the beginning he is still a shy young man, who blushes when a girl even looks at him but later on he's a real player who uses cheesy lines and actions to get the girl he likes. And by the way, his looks also don't exactly makes it very likely that these type of girls as shown in the movie would ever fall for such a man like Bannister. Just one of the silly and unlikely aspects of this movie.

The movie does get better though when it heads towards its ending, to its inevitable world record attempt. But here also lies a problem, you already know in advance that he is going to achieve to run under the 4 minutes mark. So despite the film-makers good efforts, the last run doesn't really work out that exciting and the tension that gets build up seems completely redundant.

It's not a movie that I hated watching, it certainly is maintaining enough but as a sports movie it simply is not original or inspiring enough.


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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Moving and inspiring!

Author: fourmins from United States
3 February 2006

A film with a lot of heart and fun for everyone! When someone achieves what seems to be the impossible, (Everest, the Moon, Four Minutes,) it opens the door for all of us, and that's it's appeal. Great performances, music and photography as well. Great stuff! I am a mile runner and found the races accurate and an inspiration. The four minute barrier was clearly a physiological brick wall and Bannister the doctor who ran for fun sets about examining the limits of human endurance. There aren't enough movies that celebrate human achievement, so congratulations to ESPN for backing this project. I wonder why it was left to an American network to celebrate the achievements of a British athlete?

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8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Typical sports film, but worth the viewing

Author: bcndahous from Great Lakes
7 October 2005

It is your typical sports film recalling (or loosely based upon historical events) where you know at some point the protagonist is going to triumph at some point - or why else would they make a feature film on his life?

Even though it follows the typical historical sports film steps and format, it is worth the two hours to watch it. I stayed up late one evening watching it until the end on ESPN Classic because it is enthralling. Roger Bannister is painted as a dedicated and intense young man who's focus can never be diverted. This is very likable and the viewer identifies with him and wants him to succeed; despite some moments of him being distant, unfriendly, and on occasion a bit pompous. Although a disclaimer at the beginning of the credits explains that this is based on fact, some fictitious moments have been added, I still was drawn in by the filmmaker's attempt to capture personality and character in Mr. Bannister. It left me curious if the filmmaker's interviewed and got to know the real Sir Roger Bannister before creating the film, and included some traits of him in the character in the film.

The film is also successful in creating interest in the rest of Sir Bannister's life after his running career. I'm sure there are dozens of books on the man's life, and after searching the IMDb I see other TV films and documentaries have been made (although these seem to be about the mile-running portion of his life). This film focuses on his dedication and skill at being a medical student; there indeed was curiosity raised about his life after sports, and how successful he became afterwards. Also left out of this film was how the Olympics influenced his life later on, if at all.

Bottom line, this film is very interesting and makes the viewer aware of human achievement, especially in the wake of WWII when the power of machine was never more apparent. I gave this an 8 out of 10, definitely worth your time.

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4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Typical outcome much like most sports movies but good all the same.

Author: Adam Kelly ( from United States
18 October 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had seen this movie advertised for weeks and it looked very lame. Then one day I caught a replay of it on ESPN Classic and since it was the only thing on that was worth watching I kept it running. Good choice.

Four Minutes is the story of Roger Bannister, the first human being to run a mile in under 4 minutes. It's based on a true story but certain events were dramatized for the sake of entertainment which is nothing new but it felt kind of cheap at the end of the movie knowing that some things may or may not have ever happened, but all the same it's a fun movie.

It starts out slow with Roger the medical student and his tryings for the school sports teams. He is advised to try rowing but ultimately fails and picks up running instead. Throughout the course of the movie Roger is battled with decisions to become a doctor or a runner, ultimately choosing both.

It's a by the numbers sports story. Unassuming hero has love problems, becomes good at what he does, starts to doubt himself but eventually overcomes his insecurity to triumph. You know from the get go something is good is going to happen but it suspends your belief enough where the thought of him actually triumphing starts to wain, but obviously he does.

Good movie and I highly recommend it.

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5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Possibly greatest track event of all time

Author: dwightbiggins from United States
2 November 2005

Obviously, this is a sports movie so its going to be predictable. I really enjoyed this movie because the individual aspect of track and field makes it extremely hard to make an effective movie about it.

Roger Bannister's breaking four minutes for the first time is probably the single greatest event in track history. It was a huge mental barrier which stood for nearly 20 years as something man couldn't break. Al though this movie didn't perhaps focus on that as much as it could, it still got that point across well. It was also very good at showing the world of sport back then - very white, gentile, amateur and elite, especially in Britain. And Roger Bannister was someone who personified all of it. That was shown well in Four Minutes, with him struggling to choose between medicine and running. The only real discrepancy I noticed was that they changed who was coaching him (it was in reality Franz Stampfl, an Austrian).

Overall, this was a well-done movie which really covered all the bases in terms of the story of Roger Bannister. It showed who he was, what he was up against, and how he pulled it off.

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