Race

Director Stephen Hopkins has made Nightmare On Elm Street movies as well as directed episodes of Shameless, 24 and Tales From the Crypt, so he’s able to center his film around the individual without ignoring the political time unfolding. In 1933, during the Depression and segregation, Jesse Owens enters Ohio State where he meets athletic coach Larry Snyder who guides him to breaking three track & field records before Owens is selected to compete in the 1936 Olympics being held in Berlin under the Aryan supremacy of Nazism. Rather than focus on Owens’ achievements, Hopkins delves into the flawed affairs and internal strife of an American Olympics committee at odds with participating in the Hitler games! Most of what we accept comes from the Leni Riefenstahl Olympiad feature film, made by Joseph Goebbels to sell a more positive view of Hitler’s Germany. It turns out that according to Owens, Hitler did not snub him and did not storm out during Jesse’s gold medal events. However, FDR did not send Owens a congratulatory note! The tension is not just watching Owens battling injustice but the conflicts that permeate the film between Goebbels & Riefenstahl and Avery Brundage & Jeremiah Mahoney (Jeremy Irons and William Hurt), and the friendship that develops between Germany’s star athlete Carl “Luz” Long and Jesse (played by Stephan James, who also played John Lewis in Selma!)

[PG-13]