In the film “Race,” the character of famous athlete Jesse Owens is illustrated, as well as his story of crossing racial barriers in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Set in a very tumultuous era in history, Owens defied many social norms and societal expectations for himself as a black person. “Race” is the uplifting story of an individual challenging all the odds against him, and ultimately showing the world how successful one can be when given the proper chance to try.
The film begins in 1933, when Owens goes to college at Ohio State. He is known there for his success in track and field, and is trained by Larry Snyder: a has-been track star. Owen quickly reveals his hard work ethic and talent in the film, as he works efficiently and quickly to become an even stronger athlete. The movie is simple in that more is portrayed through the visible action of Owen and the other characters, rather than through words. One is able to appreciate Owens’ talents on the field as he quickly garners the additional edge he needs to be competitive enough for the Olympics.
Owens character is further revealed as the viewer begins to see the consistency of prejudice that he faces in his life. In the film, Owens is subjected to name calling and unfair treatment, regardless of his fame. It is interesting to note that, no matter how talented he is, the color of his skin seems to be the first thing people take note of. Additionally, in spite of his success in sports, Owens, as a black person, is still exposed to the very racist laws of America at this point in history. There are several confrontations with the discriminatory policies and laws that Owens faces; however, he is able to celebrate his victory even more because of these events, as he overcomes the prejudices. At times throughout the film, it seems that the story of Owens resorts to simply showing the viewer his life in a visible, physical manner, thus portraying to viewers what was most important to him in his life.
The story of Owens and its connection to a very rough time in history is fascinating because one is able to see firsthand how brave Owens is. Owens story shows how he manages to cope, despite the building conditions of World War II and the discrimination he faces back home for being black. It is impossible to view this film without considering what life was like for black people back then, thus making the movie a thought provoking and memorable film.
Watching this film today in 2016, one is also provoked to think about what is going on today with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Undoubtedly, the events in history such as those shown in the film are connected to the divides we see today still between blacks and whites. Thus, despite the film being about Jesse Owens several decades ago, it is still quite applicable today, as such discrimination is still present in our society.
In summary, the film, “Race” portrays the incredible story of athlete Jesse Owens, and how he faces seemingly insurmountable odds in his life. His character and drive are admirable and memorable, as he shows what all people alike are capable of when they are afforded the proper chance to succeed. Additionally, his story is the anthem for change in America, both in history and in today’s world. While blacks today certainly have more of a chance to succeed than they did back then, there is still much room for progress, as this film’s timely release shows.