A heartwarming, inspiring true story of a man who refused to give in.
Michael “Eddie” Edwards competed in the Calgary Winter Olympics 1988 as Britain’s only ski jumper. He defied expectations, overcame obstacles and trained hard to get himself to the games, and captured the heart of thousands watching. His never say die, positive attitude highlighted everything the Olympics is about.
The 2016 biopic aims to emulate this feeling, and does so very well. Taron Egerton embodies Eddie excellently, both physically and with his personality. He’s an eager, tenacious underdog who won’t take no for an answer, which is very commendable. Egerton brings to life his clumsy, almost child-like wonder to the world of the Olympics. His joy to be there takes over at times, but he doesn’t want to let anyone down either.
Hugh Jackman who plays Bronson Peary provides the mentor/trainer role very well, and provides some much needed weight and tragedy to an otherwise overly positive film. Peary was dropped from his ski jump team due to his alcohol addiction and lack of discipline, which Jackman brings to the forefront of his performance providing much more drama.
The narrative itself is fairly generic and doesn’t add much that’s new. The hero has a dream to compete, but isn’t good enough. He finds an ex-professional to be his mentor, who refuses to help at first but does so in the end. The two of them prove people wrong and the hero achieves their dream.
Of course, the film is inspired by true events and therefore can’t venture far from the facts, so this isn’t a huge problem as far as I’m concerned.
Rather it is the constant reminder of Eddie’s underdog status which the film is too on the nose about. We know he’s an underdog due to his lack of ability, experience and general clumsiness, but there are a few too many reminders of his underdog stature which can be rather patronising.
The highlight of the film is the characterisation and character development of Eddie. Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton (writers of the screenplay) did an excellent job of thinning the story down to it’s key parts and only showing us what we need to see.
An excellent way they do this is with montages. It’s a useful tool when showing a long time period or a character’s development, such as with Eddie’s ski jump training. This way we see his progression but it’s not dragged out, it’s given to us so we can visually see his progression in a matter of minutes.
Creating a bond between the protagonist and the audience is an essential part of film making. Seeing Eddie develop and grow from a young boy dreaming of the Olympics, trying different events, all the way to the games is an inspiring journey.
Furthermore, the writers chose to show all the obstacles that stood in his way: dodgy knee braces, knocked back by the British Olympic association, all alongside his dad telling him to give up. But Eddie does not give up, and it’s this admirable tenacity and determination that the audience find so compelling.
He’s such a kind-hearted, enthusiastic and driven character who just wants to achieve his dreams of competing at the Olympics. He never lets anything hold him back and gives his all, and although his clumsiness and over eagerness creates a lot of comedy, it’s actually very admirable how he continues to strive forward.
The film quotes Pierre de Coubertin (founder of the Olympic committee),
“The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in life is not triumph, but the struggle.”
Which is something the film, and Eddie Edwards himself, truly embody. It’s his struggles, setbacks, yet drive and determination which are so inspiring and touching.
It’s such a feel good film, and an important lesson to all.