Sunday, 6 April 2014

True Blue (1996)

This evening, Oxford won the 160th Boat Race, an annual event between the university and its rival, Cambridge, by an epic 11 lengths, the biggest win since 1973. 

So it seems quite apt that on this significant date of the British calendar I had earlier today watched a dramatisation of another Oxford win, from 1987, one with a very interesting back story (which you can read more about here)

OK, first things first, this isn't exactly original, indeed it's often called 'Chariots Of Fire on the water' but, this is the second time I've watched it (having watched it for the first time this time last year, to the very day in fact) and on both occasions I could not help but be whipped along by what is a very stirring film. It is in detailing the backstory, the political powerplays and mutinous machinations that the film scores so successfully in touching the viewer and, crucially, whether they appreciate the sport of boat racing or they don't. I found my blood boiling at some of the arrogant petty back stabbing and despicable actions the US wannabe oarsmen invited to try out for Oxford attempted.

The film is littered with actors who have gone on to be famous (The Wire's Dominic West, Tom Hollander, Dylan Baker, Alexis Denisof and just before he attained national institution status Bill Nighy) and others who seemed poised for a greatness that somehow frustratingly passed them by (Jonathan Cake, Noah Huntley, Andrew Clover and the lovely Geraldine Somerville) Some of the performances can be a touch flat and other a touch theatrical but somehow this seems fitting in what is an inherently British film.

I could have done without the obviously introductory voice over in  the opening scenes from Dylan Baker clearly intended for a foreign audience or those with no prior knowledge of a sporting event that dates all the way back to 1829, but that's a minor quibble for an otherwise classy effort.

An utterly rousing score from Stanislas Syrewicz rounds it off nicely.

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