Salute Movie Reviews
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Chances are that you don't remember the 1986 Summer Olympics. And even if you do, you probably don't recall the name Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who took home the silver but whose win was overshadowed by the now iconic image of him sharing the podium with two African American runners who gave the famous power salute to their brethren in an attempt to make a political statement about the emergence of social equality in many so-called "developed" nations.
Australia, you must recall, had only the year prior given native Aboriginals the right to vote. Remember the Baz Luhrmann epic Australia which told the story of "The Lost Generation" of children of mixed white and Aboriginal ancestry who were forcibly taken from their Aboriginal homes and raised to become part of what was basically a servant class to full white Australia? This is the backdrop against which the story of Peter Norman is told in the vivid new doc**entary from his nephew Matt. It tells the powerful tale of of the lone white man on the podium who wasn't giving the power salute along with his other fellow medal winners. Was it a submission to racist policies of the past? Was he just being an apolitical athlete? Is it even fair for us to ask these questions of Norman?
The movie at time tend toward repetitiveness, but that does not take away from its essential message of a man being torn between doing what is "right" (at least in hindsight) and attending the Olympics as a representative of his nation. The interviews tend to say the same thing about the man, but they do paint a portrait that is worth looking at, and even transfixes you with the way politics and sports intertwine.
With the Olympics coming upon us in less than a few weeks, it will be interesting to see what stances are raised as the world takes note of a collapsing Europe, a new governing body in Egypt, and of course the massacres of Syria. Indeed, the only constant that the world guarantees is that change is rarely quick and never pretty. Not even for the champions among us.
Let me start with what I didn't like: there were too many instances in the movie where the people giving interviews just repeated what they had already said like five or six times, just somebody else was saying it. I think that if they had cut down on the repetitive parts, the movie would have been much stronger. That being said, this movie is a surprising and refreshing break from the summer action movies and cartoons. First of all, it's a true story; there are no actors or scripts, just real people talking about something that actually happened and that actually mattered to the people involved. I think it's really interesting in the context of today's sports world where most of the athletes we hear about are either taking performance enhancing drugs or are signing contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. What is happening to the sports world? There just aren't many heroes like Peter Norman left. May he rest in peace.
Another top notch doc**entary about a recently deceased public figure. Peter Norman was mired in controversy back in the 80s because he shared the Olympic podium with two black American athletes who gave the power salute while Norman just stood there quietly and pretended not to notice. Was he being a coward? Was he a racist? What was going through his head as he was singled out for being 'for the man', particularly since he hailed from Australia, a country long noted for its racist policies toward natives (remember "The Lost Generation"?) and immigrants. I loved all the old interviews and footage of Norman which showed what a genuinely nice guy he was and how hard it was for him to endure what the world put him through. It's hard enough to be an athlete, even harder when everyone points the finger at you for being the face of a nation that has yet to move into the present when it comes to its national policies. A very well-made and lovely doc**entary that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
When I saw the trailer for this movie I knew I would want my kids to see it. It is a great movie with a great message that all parents should see with their kids because it teaches them very good lessons that few movies impart to younger viewers these days. I remember the 1986 Olympics in Mexico City as one that was mired by violence and controversy on so many fronts. The story of Peter Norman who won the silver for the Men's 200m dash shows how a man can be torn between doing what is honorable for his fellow athletes and still being under pressure by his country for doing things that are not popular with citizens from other countries with more liberal policies. I loved how the movie told the whole story of Norman's controversy which led to real change in Australia's laws regarding nonwhites, Aboriginal voting rights, and immigration. This is a terrific lesson in history of the politics of race and of the Olympic games. Not to be missed.
I really loved this movie a lot more than I thought it would. It's a very sweet and uplifting doc**entary with a lot of interviews from people who knew the Olympian sprinter Peter Norman from Australia and footage of Norman himself. The movie has a lot to do with sports and politics though in the end it's really about knowing how to hold your head up high. I think people like Peter Norman are the real role models for people like me in my teens. We don't see too many people in public life who have to make really tough decisions and then live with the consequences but Norman did and he had to do a lot of explaining and apologizing afterwards. I respect him for that.I also really learned a lot about how the Olympics are not just a sporting event but a chance for the whole world to come together and understand each other and maybe even help other countries with their problems. I think that all high school kids and athletes should see this before graduating.
I wasn't even born when this story is supposed to have taken place (the 1986 Olympics in Mexico) but I still found this story so fascinating and heartwarming. It's about a runner from Australia who is white and he becomes famous (or more famous) when he poses with his medal with two African American sprinters who do the power salute. He obviously is ashamed because Australia has had a long history of discriminating against nonwhites, especially the native aboriginal people, but he still is there on behalf of his country and his fellow citizens so he can't really take a political stand. It's a fascinating story about what is right and wrong and when you can take a stand and when you should just hold your chin up for your master. I think all the athletes around today who take all those steroids should watch this and maybe learn something about what it means to be a real hero with real courage.
They always say that truth is stranger than fiction (see this week's other doc**entary release "The Imposter" for further proof of this old adage) but truth is also often more uplifting than fiction. This definitely holds true for the story of Australian sprinter Peter Norman who won a silver medal in the Olympics in 1986 just a year after Australia officially let Aboriginal citizens vote though it still did its best to deter nonwhite immigration. The famous poster of Norman (often referred to as "the great white hope") standing between two black Americans that won the gold and bronze while giving the "power salute" (hence the title) exemplified the tensions between the sports world and the political world. This is a great doc**entary made by Norman's nephew Matt which combines archival footage from the 1986 Olympics with interviews from friends, family, colleagues, coaches and fellow athletes of Peter Norman that show how he struggled to represent his country while still coming to terms with its institutionalized racism and racist policies. A really great movie for everyone, even if they think they don't like sports or politics.
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