Opening 31 Mar 2016
Nine-year-old Michael “Eddie” Edwards dreams of representing Great Britain in the Olympic Games. He practices holding his breath under water, but that seems not to be an Olympic sport. He tests other ideas, and learns “real” sports, including skiing. After watching ski jumping on television, a glimmer of a possibility shines on the horizon. Great Britain has not had a candidate in ski jumping since 1929. Eddie, now 22 years old, goes to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany to learn the techniques. The owner of the local restaurant, Petra (Berber), encourages him. After original resistance, a former U.S. ski jumping champion, Bronson Peary (Jackman), agrees to teach him basic rules: go up, go back, go forward, go down. Eddie is overweight and his glasses cloud up under his goggles. He crashes consistently, eventually landing in the hospital. He never gives up and finally participates in official competitions in Obersdorf, Germany, and St. Moritz, Switzerland. Finally, the British Olympics Committee reluctantly agrees to finance his efforts. He qualifies for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, after he manages to jump 61 meters off the 70-meter ramp. In Calgary he comes in last in all of his disciplines, but still sets a new British record. He wins the hearts of the audience; people greet him like a rock star wherever he appears.
It’s always satisfying to learn about real people and their lives – how one can succeed under adverse circumstances, or as the movie says, “You don’t have to win to be a winner.” Although much of the film is true and one is encouraged to research more of the facts, Jackman’s role of Bronson Peary is pure fiction. Taron Egerton is excellent as young Eddie Edwards. His film version looks much like old photos of Edwards in his youth. The real Eddie, as well as the cast and director, came to Munich for a well-received premiere. Be prepared to sit through some repetition: another flight, another crash, another discussion with a disapproving father, another determined smile from Eddie after another argument with Peary and so on. It was filmed in London, Germany, and Austria. (Becky Tan)