In the 1930s, Jesse Owens is a young man who is the first in his family to go to college. Going to Ohio State to train under its track and field coach, Larry Snyder, the young African American athlete quickly impresses with his tremendous potential that suggests Olympic material. However, as Owens struggles both with the obligations of his life and the virulent racism against him, the question of whether America would compete at all at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany is being debated vigorously. When the American envoy finds a compromise persuasive with the Third Reich to avert a boycott, Owens has his own moral struggle about going. Upon resolving that issue, Owens and his coach travel to Berlin to participate in a competition that would mark Owens as the greatest of America's Olympians even as the German film director, Leni Riefenstahl, locks horns with her country's Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels, to film the politically embarrassing fact for posterity.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
'Race' is an overall entertaining movie hampered by some fairly predictable flaws. It features pretty standard sports movie clichés, e.g., hard-ass coach with heart of gold, rival who becomes best friend, etc. The personal (melo)drama seems pretty mundane, and, as to be expected in historical dramas, certain liberties are taken with the facts for dramatic purposes. But there is interesting dramatic tension in the scenes in which the US Olympics commission debates boycotting the '36 games, and in Owens' personal struggle over whether to compete in the face of certain factions of the black community entreating him not to. The actual scenes of competition are presented in an exciting fashion. My favorite scene captures Owens' P.O.V. as he enters Berlin Stadium at the height of pre-War Nazi pageantry, Hindenburg flying overhead, Hitler waving in the stands to a thunderous chorus of "Sieg Heils." It must have been overwhelming. Carice van Houten plays Leni Refienstahl as a sympathetic character, defying Goebbel's orders to tell the true story of the 1936 Olympics, and Stephan James as Owens provides an enjoyable leading performance.
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