Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve James|
|Produced by||Mark Doonan
|Written by||Steve James
R. Lee Ermey
|Music by||Mason Daring|
|Editing by||Peter Frank|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Release dates||January 24, 1997|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Prefontaine is a 1997 American biographical film chronicling the life of the American long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine and his death at age 24. Jared Leto plays the title character and R. Lee Ermey plays Bill Bowerman. The film was written by Steve James and Eugene Corr, and directed by James. Prefontaine tells the story from the point of view of Bill Dellinger, played by Ed O'Neill, the assistant coach who was with him day-to-day, and Nancy Alleman, the runner's girlfriend at the time of his death.
After enrolling at the University of Oregon in 1969, where Bill Bowerman and Bill Dellinger become his coaches, Prefontaine proceeds to win three national cross-country championships and four consecutive 5,000-meter runs, breaking the U.S. record in the latter. "Pre" gains fame as an aggressive runner who likes to be out front from the start, rather than biding his time until a strong finish.
A bitter disappointment comes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, where after leading his event with only 150 meters to go, Prefontaine is passed in the stretch by three different runners and does not win a medal. Pre devotes himself to preparing for the 1976 Montreal Olympics following his college career, but on May 30, 1975, his small car flips on a road not far from campus and Prefontaine, only 24 years old, is killed.
- Jared Leto as Steve Prefontaine
- Ed O'Neill as Bill Dellinger
- R. Lee Ermey as Bill Bowerman
- Amy Locane as Nancy Alleman
- Breckin Meyer as Pat Tyson
- Lindsay Crouse as Elfriede
- Brian McGovern as Mac Wilkins
- Kurtwood Smith as Curtis Cunningham
The majority of the film was shot at the University of Puget Sound campus in Tacoma, Washington. Peyton Field was redecorated to resemble Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. For the role of Steve Prefontaine, Jared Leto immersed himself in the runner's life, meeting with members of the family and friends. He bore a striking resemblance to the real Prefontaine, also adopting athlete's voice and upright running style. The transformation was so complete, that when the runner's sister, Linda, first saw him in character, she broke down and cried. Prefontaine explores American athletes' amateur status and the conditions and lack of resources these athletes had to endure in their attempts to compete with the world's top athletes, who were provided all they needed to train and compete at a top level, while dealing with the pressure from their American fans who expected nothing but the best from them.
Upon its premiere at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, Prefontaine was positively received by critics and audiences, who greatly praised the film for Leto's acting and James' direction. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 59% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 27 reviews with an average score of 6.4 out of 10. On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 reviews from film critics, the film has a rating score of 56 based on 15 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews. Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert praised the film giving it "two thumbs up".
- Without Limits, another film based on Prefontaine's life.
- Ebert, Roger (January 23, 1997). "'Prefontaine' premieres at Sundance". Roger Ebert. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
- Hobson, Louis B. (September 28, 1998). "His So-Called Life's on a Roll". Calgary Sun.
- "Sure, he can run". People Weekly 47 (18): 94. May 12, 1997.
- "Prefontaine (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
- "Prefontaine Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 8, 2013.