Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Breaking Away

Last week I rewatched the 1979 cycling film Breaking Away for the first time since I was in high school. It's a great film and perfectly captures the socio-economic problems of the late 70s.

But... like so many sports films, the ending suggests that winning makes all of life's problems go away. When the local Cutters team beats the rich, university teams, not only is the main character reconciled with his parents, he also earns the respect of the rival teams and eventually gets up enough confidence to go to the university himself. One of his Cutter teammates (played by Dennis Quaid) earns the respect of his police officer brother, and still another is embraced by his fiancée who now has an increased amount of love for him.

I really like Bernard Malmud's novel, The Natural. Unlike Redford's film, however, the protagonist strikes out in his final at-bat, forcing a serious reevaluation of the preceding pages.

In the greatest sports films, the protagonists lose, testing the tolerance and love of those around them while forcing them to reevaluate their priorities. Rocky! Rocky!

Do these general rules hold true? What is your favorite sports film and is it a film about underdogs winning, or about losing?


Anonymous said...

What Breaking Away taught me was that when your racing with Italians, you always gotta be on the lookout for one of 'em sticking a pump in yer front wheel...oh, and there are no refunds!

Corry Cropper said...

Life lessons from Breaking Away and from Ophir. Very funny...

Did an Italian crush your hopes and dreams, too?

And, more importantly, did you ever ride 60 mph behind a semi truck or begin speaking English with an Italian accent?