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Movie Review

Endurance

MPAA Rating: PG for brief nudity

Reviewed by: Ken James
STAFF WRITER

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
10 to Adult
Genre:
Drama Biography
Length:
1 hr. 23 min.
Year of Release:
1999
USA Release:
May 14, 1999 (wide)
Box art from “Endurance”
Featuring: Haile Gebrselassie, Shawananness Gebrselassie, Yonas Zergaw, Tedesse Haile, Gebrselassie Bekele, Alem Tellahun
Director: Bud Greenspan, Leslie Woodhead
Producer: _____
Distributor: Buena Vista

As the world’s communication infrastructure improves and global travel becomes a relatively easy task, stories of underdogs from far-off lands who have risen as winners despite the incredible odds fascinate us all. “Endurance” is the story of Ethiopian long-distance runner Haile Gebrsellassie. Haile was the winner of the 10,000 meter race at the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

This documentary-drama takes us to rural Ethiopia where we meet Haile as a boy (played by Haile’s nephew Yonas Zergaw). Raised in a farming community, Haile faces many hardships common to anyone in his situation. His true joy seems to come in running, when even as a youngster he began running up to 12 miles each day just to get back and forth to school. When the 1980 Moscow Olympics were aired on radio, Haile was captivated as the nation cheered Miruts Yifter, winner and fellow countryman participating in the 10,000 meter race. Perhaps this is what inspired him. And so, as he began his adult life (and played by himself from this point on), Haile moved to Addis Ababa to begin training as a serious runner. Ironically, his first major race found him in the very back of the pack.

“Endurance” is an inspiring film. With actual footage from the Atlanta games, this docudrama takes us to a realistic cross-cultural setting. Aside from English, the local dialects of Ethiopia are used in this film, with subtitles in the appropriate places. As this does take place mainly in Africa, there is some animism mixed in with a portrayal of Christianity that may seem foreign to most North Americans, but is probably quite true to reality in one of the oldest Christian nations in the world (remember the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts that became a believer?). Traditional beliefs mixed with forms of Christianity are common throughout Africa and in many other cultures as well.

I understand that there is some brief nudity due to a cultural difference in modesty and dress, but I don’t recall anything other than of National Geographic fare. I recommend this non-offensive docudrama for young and old alike.


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