Cool Runnings

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Cool Runnings
Coolrunnings.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Produced by
Written by
  • Lynn Siefert
  • Tommy Swerdlow
  • Michael Goldberg
Story by Lynn Siefert
Michael Ritchie
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Phedon Papamichael
Edited by Bruce Green
Production
  company
Walt Disney Pictures
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 1, 1993 (1993-10-01)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million
Box office $154,856,263

Cool Runnings is a 1993 American sports film directed by Jon Turteltaub, and starring Leon, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba and John Candy. The film was released in the United States on October 1, 1993. This was the last film featuring Candy to be released in his lifetime.

It is loosely based on the true story of the Jamaica national bobsled team's debut in the bobsled competition of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.[1][2]

The film received positive reviews, and the film's soundtrack also became popular, with the reggae single "I Can See Clearly Now" by Jimmy Cliff reaching the top 40 in nations such as Canada, France, and the UK.

Plot[edit]

Irv Blitzer is an American bobsled two time Gold Medalist at the 1968 Winter Olympics who finished first in two events again during the 1972 Winter Olympics but was disqualified from the latter for cheating and retired in disgrace to Jamaica, where he leads an impoverished life as a bookie. Irving is approached by two Jamaican athletes: top 100m runner Derice Bannock, who failed to qualify for the 1988 Summer Olympics when another opponent accidentally tripped him at the trials, and Sanka Coffie, a champion push cart racer.

The athletes wish to use Irving's previous experience as a Coach in order to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics as bobsledders. Irving had been good friends with Derice's father, Ben, a former sprinter whom Irving had tried to recruit for the bobsled team years ago, who is presumed to be deceased. Yul Brenner, another runner who was tripped at the qualifier, joins the team as does Junior Bevil, the runner who tripped Yul and Derice. Eventually Irving is convinced to coach the team.

The four try to find various ways to earn money to get in the Olympics; singing on the street, arm wrestling, and holding a kissing booth, but all fail. Junior, however, sells his car, which gets the team the money that they need. Later on in a hotel room, Junior reprimands Sanka for hurting Yul's feelings and tells him about his father's past and how he became rich with hard work. He encourages Yul not to give up on achieving all of his goals.

In Calgary, Irving manages to acquire an old practice sled, as the Jamaicans have never been in an actual bobsled. The Jamaicans are looked down upon by other countries, in particular the East German team whose arrogant leader, Josef, tells them to go home, resulting in a bar fight. The team resolves to view the contest more seriously, continuing to train and improve their technique. They qualify for the finals, but are briefly disqualified. At the primary judge meeting, a frustrated Irving immediately confronts his former coach from the '72 Olympic Winter Games Kurt Hemphill, now a primary judge of the '88 Olympic Winter Games, for disqualifying the Jamaicans for his mistake. He confesses that he made the biggest mistake in his life and resorted to cheating by hiding weights underneath the sled to make it run faster. Irving’s 1972 Gold Medals were revoked and he embarrassed his country with the scandal. Irv also reminds Kurt that it was HIS mistake, and if Kurt wants revenge, he should punish him, not the Jamacian bobsledding team, as they deserve to represent their country by competing in the Winter Games as contenders and don't deserve to suffer because of his past mistakes. That night at their hotel, the team gets a phone call informing them that the committee has reversed its decision - the Jamaicans are back in!

The Jamaicans' first day on the track results in more embarrassment and a last place finish. Sanka convinces Derice to stop copying qualities of the Swiss team. Once the team develops their own style, the second day improves; the Jamaican team finishes with a fast time which puts them in eighth position. Later, Irving tells Derice the truth about his past and convinces him to think of himself as a champion even if he doesn't win the gold, saying, "A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it."

For the first half of the final day's race it looks as though they will break the world bobsled speed record, until tragedy strikes: their sled, due to being old, has one of the blades fall off, and flips on its side coming out of a turn towards the end of their run, leaving them meters short of the finish line. However, the team lifts the sled over their shoulders and walks across the finish line to rousing applause from spectators, including Josef, Hempill, and Junior's father. The team, at the end, feels accomplished enough to return in four years to the next winter Olympics. A brief epilogue states the team returned to Jamaica as heroes and upon their return to the Winter Olympics four years later, they were treated as equals.

Cast[edit]

Music[edit]

A soundtrack album with 11 tracks was released by Sony in 1993 on compact disc (Columbia Chaos OK 57553).

In some European countries the soundtrack album was released by Sony with a 12th (bonus) track being Rise Above It performed by Lock Stock and Barrel (Columbia 474840 2). Songs from the sound track also featured in a little know musical "Rasta in the Snow", which was based on events of the real Jamaican sled team.

No. Title Music Length
1. "Wild Wild Life"   Wailing Souls  
2. "I Can See Clearly Now"   Jimmy Cliff  
3. "Stir It Up"   Diana King  
4. "Cool Me Down"   Tiger  
5. "Picky Picky Head"   Wailing Souls  
6. "Jamaican Bobsledding Chant"   Worl-A-Girl  
7. "Sweet Jamaica"   Tony Rebel  
8. "Dolly My Baby"   Super Cat  
9. "The Love You Want"   Wailing Souls  
10. "Countrylypso"   Hans Zimmer  
11. "The Walk Home"   Hans Zimmer  
12. "Rise Above It" (bonus track included only on European release reference number 474840 2) Lock Stock and Barrel  

Reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews.[3] Cool Runnings has received a rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews, with 23 positive and 8 negative. The site's consensus states "Cool Runnings rises above its formulaic sports-movie themes with charming performances, light humor, and uplifting tone."[4]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at #3.[5] The film had total domestic earnings of $68,856,263 in the United States and Canada, and $86,000,000 internationally (with $416,771 earned in Jamaica), for a total of $154,856,263 worldwide.

Differences between real life and film[edit]

Cool Runnings was, as noted above, based on real life events surrounding the formation of the Jamaican bobsled team. Some of the incidents that occurred in the film were real, such as the favorites to win the four-man event being the Swiss team (which they did), and the crash that eliminated the Jamaicans from further competition. However, there were several creative liberties taken by the filmmakers in order to complete the story.

Characters[edit]

The bobsledders portrayed in the film are fictional, although the people who conceived the idea of a Jamaican bobsled team were inspired by pushcart racers and tried to recruit top track sprinters. However, they did not find any elite sprinters interested in competing and instead recruited four sprinters from the Air Force for the team.

Irving "Irv" Blitzer is a fictional character; the real team had several trainers, none of whom were connected to any cheating scandal. At the time of the movie's release, the United States had not won a gold medal in bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics in the four man event since 1948. They would not win the gold again until 2010.

In the film, the team is formed by Jamaican sprinters after failing to qualify for the 1988 Summer Olympics. The Jamaican Summer Olympic Trials would have occurred following the Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Organization[edit]

A fictional all-encompassing winter sports governing body, the "International Alliance of Winter Sports", appears in the film. In reality, each Winter Olympic Sport has its own governing body, and bobsledding falls under the jurisdiction of the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (or FIBT, the initials of its French name).

Competition[edit]

One of the most fictionalized parts of Cool Runnings was the competition itself. In the film, the Jamaicans are regarded as unwelcome outsiders to the Games by other countries (particularly East Germany) and ridiculed. In reality, the Jamaicans were treated as equals and there was no real animosity between the team and their competitors; in fact, the Jamaicans were aided by another team who lent them one of their backup sleds so they could qualify.

The bobsled competition in the film consists of three individual runs held on consecutive days, whereas in reality the Olympic bobsled competition is two runs a day held over a two-day period.

While the Jamaicans did crash their bobsled, the film implied it happened during the finals and depicted the team as one of the medal contenders having run a world record pace prior to the crash. After the crash, the film depicted the Jamaicans carrying their sled on their shoulders to the finish to a slow-building standing ovation. In reality, the crash happened during the qualifiers and caused the Jamaicans to miss the finals, they were not setting a record pace, and they did not carry the sled but walked next to it. When the sled tipped, they were doing 80 miles an hour: their helmets scraped against the wall for 600 meters until they came to a stop.[6] They also received somewhat sporadic applause, less than the crescendo response in the movie,[7] but the real bobsled driver Dudley Stokes cites the spectator applause as the reason the run turned from tragedy to triumph for him.[8]

Crash[edit]

In the film the crash is depicted to have been caused by a mechanical failure in the front left blade of the sled. As the driver steers, a nut and bolt on the control column work loose eventually causing a loss of control as the bobsleigh comes out of a turn and subsequently crashing.

In reality, it was deemed that driver inexperience, excess speed and regressing the turn too high caused the sled to become unstable and top heavy seconds prior to it toppling onto its left side. Real TV footage of the actual crash was used in the film but heavily edited to fit in with the film's version of the crash. Both the run and the high speed crash were disorienting: team member Nelson Chris Stokes "felt a bump" when they tipped, but didn't realize they had turned over until he started to smell his helmet, which was fibreglass, friction-burning on the ice, "which is something that stays with you for many years afterwards." [9]

Home media[edit]

On January 22, 2001, DVD was released by Walt Disney Studios in the United Kingdom in Region 2.

Legacy[edit]

On January 18, 2014 the Jamaican bobsled team qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. They have described themselves as "Cool Runnings, The Second Generation." [10] In light of the team's qualification for the 2014 Olympics, Dudley Stokes, one of the original 1988 team and now general secretary of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, said "I don't think the support for the team, like we've seen over the last three days, would have been sustainable without the ongoing appeal of the movie".[11] The team received funding from many sources, including one donation campaign held by the online community for the cryptocurrency Dogecoin.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]