Olympic competition has long been fertile ground for filmmakers across the world. Both documentary and feature film directors have centred their visions around the world’s largest sporting event, focusing their storytelling eye on the whirlwind of human sporting excellence. The inherent drama of the Olympic events draws enormous crowds and competitors from the four corners of the world, to share the spectacle of human excellence under the most breathtaking conditions.
While some filmmakers strive to capture the essence of the games, such as Kon Ichikawa’s triumphant three hour celebration of the 1964 games in Tokyo Olympiad, others seek to use the event as backdrop for the more human stories. Recent films such as Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie the Eagle, Craig Gillespie’s I,Tonya, Bennett Miller’s bleak and weighty Foxcatcher and even Steven Spielberg, whose 2005 film Munich stands alongside Kevin Macdonald’s gripping One Day in September, chronicled the tragic events during the 1972 Olympics.
A film that dear to the hearts of HeyUGuys is Jon Turteltaub’s 1993 Cool Runnings. The bejewlled account of the first ever Jamaican Bobsleigh Olympic team’s efforts at the Calgary 1988 Games is not only a great family movie about a seemingly impossible challenge, but it’s one of the most quotable comedies from that era. The film tells the story of Devon Harris, Dudley Stokes, Michael White, Freddy Powell, and Chris Stokes and how they became Olympic legend. A legend that has inspired an entire nation to continue its legacy.
The good folks at Betway recently caught up with one of the original ‘Cool Runners’, Devon Harris, to talk about his memories of the games he competed in, as well as the emotional legacy of what they achieved. It’s a very fun read, and it seeks to portray what it was really like for the team, isolated and under huge pressure, as their strove to represent their country on the world stage.
He describes the training and the event itself as ‘an adventure’, but with a very serious side to it. Harris was, in his words, ‘the youngest solider on that team’, and described their interplay as tbeing ‘as close as you can imagine three guys in the army can get given the rank structure. Dudley Stokes was a captain, I was a lieutenant and Michael White was a private. It was an interesting dynamic.’
To him the ’88 experience was the apex of his time on the team, and he speaks candidly about the fear he encountered. On the film he is nothing if not ebullient, ‘Cool Runnings is the kind of movie I would enjoy even if it wasn’t about a significant part of my life. I really loved it and still love the human-interest story and powerful life lessons.’
To filmmakers the Olympics is a powerful force for drama, and for the competitiors it can be, as Harris puts it, ‘Utopia…Having all the troubles and ills that exists in the world, just being shielded from it, and just having a chance in that moment in those 16 days to connect with the humanity of people from all over the world and realise, you know what, the differences that define us are insignificant, compared to all the things that are that bind us.’