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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 30, 2014 - Edition No 921 

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SPIRIT OF THE MARATHON

SYNOPSIS:
Spirit of the Marathon is the first ever non-fiction feature film to capture the drama and essence of the famed 26.2 mile running event. Filmed on four continents, this first ever non-fiction movie about the famous 26.2 mile running event known as the Marathon, brings together a diverse cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries. It follows each of six runners as they prepare for and ultimately face the challenge of the Chicago Marathon.

Review by Louise Keller:
This rousing and involving documentary explores different facets of the marathon and why some find it easy to get hooked. It could be called Everyman's Everest, says author Hal Higdon and as one runner points out 'It's like life - you're gonna hit rough periods, but it's how you handle them.' What is the appeal of taxing the body to a state of exhaustion? Watching those who participate, it is clear that the marathon is much more than an interest. It is a passion, an obsession and a way of life that allows its participants a sense of achievement, arming them with enough confidence to face any adversity.

Not surprisingly, producer, director and cinematographer Jon Dunham has been a runner for more than a decade, having completed 24 marathons, including four in Chicago. It is with zeal that he involves us in the stories of six runners as part of the preparation for the Chicago Marathon, in which 1.2 million spectators watch 40,000 participants run 26.2 miles around the streets of the city. Why 26.2 miles? Interestingly enough, the reason involves Windsor Castle and royalty. But there are other questions that are answered. The origin of the word marathon, the historic context and the fact that the ancient Greeks believed it was through competition that the human race achieved its best.

The challenge is emotional as well as physical and as a non-runner myself, I was curious as to how interested I would be in this film about people passionate about the sport. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself totally involved and swept along by its enthusiasm. As we hear from the different runners (young and old), we begin to understand the rewards are not just about winning. Essentially, it is about competing against yourself. Whether it is a search for the holy grail, as one runner suggests is for you to decide, but the film interests, involves and moves us as we watch tears of satisfaction as the challenge is successfully met.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SPIRIT OF THE MARATHON (G)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Documentary with Ryan Bradley, Leah Caille, Lori O'Connor, Deena Kastor, Jerry Meyers, Daniel Njenga

PRODUCER: Jon Dunham, Gwendolen Twist

DIRECTOR: Jon Dunham

SCRIPT: Not credited

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jon Dunham, Sarah Levy

EDITOR: Christo Brock

MUSIC: Jeff Beal

PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sharmill Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 30, 2008 - limited release. Cinema Nova, Melbourne; Dendy Portside, Brisbane; Cinema Paradiso, Perth; Palace Nova Cinema, Adelaide; Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne, Sydney







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