Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mighty Jerome

I liked this movie documenting the life of Canadian sprinter Harry Jerome.  Jerome exploded out of Vancouver to a world record in the 100 yard dash in 1962 when he was only 19, and set a total of 7 world records over his career.  He irritated the press by rebuffing a request for a picture at the Rome Olympics.  When he later pulled up with a hamstring pull in the finals, the press were delighted to declare him a quitter, a label which adhered for years.  Jerome did have a great career at University of Oregon, got gold medals in the Commonwealth and Pan American Games, and a bronze and fourth place in the next Olympics and came back to compete at yet another Olympics after totally rupturing his quadriceps muscle and having a tricky operation to reattach it to the ligament.

The movie took place against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in the US.  While at Oregon, Jerome married a white girl from Edmonton who was studying there and struggled against racial discrimination.  However, when he was interviewed on CBC with his contemporary the white sprinter Bruce Kidd after the Black Power salute by two American athletes at the Mexico Olympics, Kidd was much more supportive of the demonstration than Jerome.  At one point in the interview Kidd turns to Jerome and asks why Jerome's being so moderate, when Kidd's passion on the subject had arisen mostly from Jerome's anecdotes about his own treatment.

In the movie people described as quiet and withdrawn, but also with the cocky confidence that he could run the fastest of anybody in the world.  He was definitely an interesting study in contrasts.  There is a track meet named after him and an award honouring black athletes but many Canadians don't know much about him, so this movie should address a lack.

The black and white movie did a great job of knitting together archival film into a seamless whole.  In the Q&A, the director said he'd used 5 cameras for different parts of the film.


Lib Gibson said...

Hi grandma it is jamie and I read your blog and loved it now I will comment daily! Please keep blogging!

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