Pushing The Limits- The Four Minute Mile: A Brilliant Moment In Sports History

| January 14, 2010

The Four Minute Mile depicts the historic moment of Roger Bannister’s triumph over the seemingly impossible. For several years, athletes attempted to complete the mile race in under four minutes. A figurative “brick wall” was erected in the minds of many as racers tried and failed to break the world record. This film outlines the physical and mental trials of the athletes vying for the same dream. Finally, through sheer endurance, perseverance, and willpower, Roger Bannister became the first to overcome the tribulations.
This British film has a very slow, dull exposition as it is more concerned with the plot as opposed to characterization. It picks up the pace, so to speak, as the dialogue grows wittier and the audience can relate with the British Bannister (portrayed sublimely by Richard Huw) and his obstacles. Beginning with naysayers who aren’t convinced of Bannister’s ability, the film traverses his journey as he encounters formidable rivals in Nique Needles’ stellar performance of the Australian John Landy and John Philbin’s convincing American runner Wes Santee. Spurred on by the British conquest in 1953 of having the first climbers to ascend Mt. Everest, Bannister endeavors on his dream, facing such challenges as the Helsinki Olympics and his personal goal of completing medical school. The film culminates in a last grueling race between Bannister and Landy, with each man dealing with his own personal obstacles.
This film was made in 1988 and depicts the long trek that occurred throughout the 1950′s. As such, it is refreshing in a plethora of ways. There is nothing explicit about it, all the language remains clean and the film is ideal for all ages. Also, it is wonderful to see how competition was pure, with rivals’ mutual respect and a disdain for sponsorship. The movie is shot in a somewhat gritty style; there is no present- day glamour of polished cinematography, all the glamour resides within the integrity of the athletes and the races. The movie clocks in at just over three hours but that is understandable as it spans several years in the lives of Bannister and Landy.
Bannister is accompanied by Chris Chataway, played by Adrian Rawlins, and Chris Brasher, played by Robert Burbage, who are fellow runners who stoke Bannister’s flame to succeed. The final grace which guides him invaluably is his coach Franz Stampfl, impeccably portrayed by Michael York.
This is an inspirational story about Bannister, Landy and their peers, and their personal and shared challenges as they nobly embark on their ultimate dream. Even more compelling than their historical accomplishments is the ability of man to endure all types of obstacles through belief in oneself, determination, and focus. Thus, The Four Minute Mile is not only a great story but also motivation for anyone who longs to manifest his passion in life.

About the Author:

Alicia Ayoub has been published by Filmmonthly.com and "Verve" Magazine of Hendersonville, Nc. Her passion for the entertainment industry does not end with the pen. After working as a theatrical stage manager for over a decade, she is trying her hand at film making; having worked for Dreamworks, PBS, and Stormcatcher Films. Currently, Alicia is revising a screenplay in between movie gigs.
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