Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Loneliness of Long Distance Runner

Tony Richardson, 99m, 1962, UK

Long distance running, particularly in the absence of a cell phone, is certainly an activity, which provides solitude of a special kind. As Smith, the teenage boy who is the subject runs and runs, memories come tumbling and he relives his past. This b/w movie is set in a bleak autumnal British landscape in social conditions far from the affluence of subsequent period. Smith is a teenager from the underprivileged section who lands in a reformatory after getting caught for a petty robbery. We have glimpses of life at the institution.

The head of the school spots the boy's talent for running and, to add a feather to his own cap, goads him with enticements to win the prize for a five mile race in an inter school race competition. Smith leaves his nearest competitor far behind, but close to the finishing line, brings himself to a halt, gifting away the trophy. It is an enigmatic yet powerful act of self assertion, whereby his existence as an individual is established. Like the protagonist of 400 Blows, he now faces the pathless sea of the future. A somewhat rough shod film of substance.


Anonymous said...

The movie was the first film for the lead actor Tom Courtenay. He looks a bit older than his character, but his performance is electrifying enough to accept him as a teenager boy.

S. M. Rana said...

Yes, it was an excellent portrayal of the disturbed yet proud young man.