"Don't let the "R" rating on this movie scare you from seeing it, or from showing it to your family. Yes, there is a shower scene where the black runners are showering, and a scene where Christine skinny-dips in a water tank, but it is very discreet and in no way offensive. The language is not worse than in many PG movies.
Furthermore, the morality is largely consistent with traditional values. Bertold (the coach) takes Christine into his little home because he has noplace else to live, but makes it very clear that she will be completely safe. Later, Christine's boyfriend wants her to move in with him, but she refuses. Throughout the movie the main characters show concern for their moral character, as well as their dedication to winning the big race. As with all these sports dramas, it comes as no surprise that Christine won the big race.
What makes this movie so compelling is the psychology, both of Bertold and Christine. Bertold failed at the race twice, so he is sort of trying to relive the race through Christine. He thinks of nothing else as he does his best to train her. Christine, not understanding the male singular focus on training, longs for social interaction. The story pivots on how they handle these different perspectives.
Parents can feel comfortable showing this movie to at least junior high kids. It wonderfully gives a South African feel to the whole story. Family discussion could revolve around understanding both psychological perspectives and how one's own kids would work to resolve the conflict. This is a surprisingly good movie, much better than Prefontaine (written by the same writer). The only better running movie I've seen is "Chariots of Fire.""
More than just about a race, it is about South Africa today
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 06/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 2000 South African film is about a 56-mile marathon run called The Comrades. It's also about a former marathon runner, now in his sixties, who never made it and has spent a lifetime as a manager in a brick factory. His avocation though is coaching other athletes. The German actor, Armin Mueller-Stahl is cast in this role of Barry, and the story centers around him. He's a white man but yet much beloved by the young black factory workers he coaches. And when he is fired from his job to be replaced by a politically correct black man, his running team is heartbroken.Circumstances, however, bring a young Namibian woman named Kristina, played by Ntahta Moshesh, into his life. He has observed her running on the road and sees her potential as an athlete. He saves her from being deported, brings her into his home, and starts to train her. As he's a widower and lives alone, this make his neighbors raise their eyebrows. All does not go well with the training however. Kristina resents him running her life and there is lots of conflict. There's also conflict with the four young African men he had been training. And the new manager who replaced him has tribal prejudices of his own and also begins to romance Kristina.This film gave me a good chance to view the South African landscape and see some of the recent shifts in racial politics there. The acting was uniformly good. And, even though I found the film too long even at 113 minutes, I was completely involved, holding my breath at the racing scenes, which were actually quite predictable. However, the setting and the theme made up for it all. Recommended."
The province of the soul
Stephen A. Haines | Ottawa, Ontario Canada | 02/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1942, thousands of POWs were marched along the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula in the infamous "Death March". Thirst, hunger and fatigue plagued them in scorching heat. As guards watched impassively, the weaker fell by the wayside. Today, similar numbers follow the similar tracks with similar results. Only now we call it exercise. Instead of being instigated by imperial armies, supermarkets and auto rentals now act as sponsors. Instead of guards, the trekkers are goaded on by cheering spectators, only slightly less indifferent to the plight of the fallen.The background to one of these dramas of endeavour and endurance is ably portrayed in The Long Run. In this film, the locale is South Africa, not the Philippines. Instead of steaming jungle, it's city roads and pollution. The quest, however, isn't just survival, it's winning. With exercise, winning means training, and training means coaching. Armin Mueller-Stahl plays Berry Bohmer, a brickyard employee coaching a team of runners. Encountering a young woman jogging, he sees immense promise in her. After some initial difficulties, Christine [Nthati Moshesh] accepts him as her trainer. The goal is winning the Comrades Marathon, a gruelling 90 km run across Natal Province, South Africa.It's not a straightforward enterprise. Christine, a homeless illegal immigrant, moves in with Berry, scandalising the neighbourhood. It's hard to decide which of them is more prim in the relationship. His own situation becomes precarious when the brickyard owner wants to advance the cause of Black African management. Christine, although a natural runner, has no disciplined experience. Berry must start her at the beginning. Director Jean Stewart balances these disparate forces with finesse. From the opening scene, the tension of this race is vividly obvious. "Forget about the pain!", Berry tells his team, but you are confronted with the stress involved in this enterprise throughout the film. Whatever Moshesh's running experience in real life, she admirably demonstrates her abilities as she paces out bush roads and dodges coppers. Stewart places every scene in proper context, from distant views along rural tracks to the race's conclusion in Durban. Long distance shots of the Natal countryside impart a strong sense of the universality of distance running. Finally, after no few tribulations, the race is run. The key point is Cowie's, a hill rising beyond a deceptive flat track. "It has killed thousands!", says Berry. Christine, determined, has her own approach. The race opens before sunrise, but "it'll get hot later today" intones the announcer. As the day begins, after the race starts, Stewart captures the easy mood of those first minutes. As time passes and the pace picks up, the full scope of the challenge is manifested. Runners are seen beside the track, crumpled with exhaustion. Christine's own support team members falter. There's nothing foregone about the conclusion - remember Cool Running? [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]"
A motivational movie about and for women!
Linda Linguvic | 02/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is difficult to find motivational movies that star women athletes. With a few exceptions most are about men and men's teams.(From Hoosiers, Rudy, Remember the Titans, Cool Runnings, Radio etc) Even fewer films are about women runners.(Chariots of Fire, Prefontaine, Pre etc) So, I was delighted to find this video about Kristina Moyo and her challenge of finishing the Comrades Ultramarathon. The footage of Africa, music, dialogue, running scenes, and final finish, has put it on the top of my motivational movie list! She has inspired me to run my first marathon."
Good acting, good story, Armin is beautiful
Rose Marie | Roseburg, OR | 04/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was surprised when, by accident, I watched this movie in HBO in Malaysia. I just had to get a copy of DVD from the United Kingdom as the seller in U.S. would not ship it here. This is not only a good story, in spite of being just a simple racing and "love" story, but I observed the acting of Armin (Berry, the coach) and I fell in love with him. The heroine is a cute, beautiful African actress, fresh and young, and her acting is so down to earth, you think you are living among all the characters in this movie. The dancing scene at the local bar is so funny, and the embrace at the ending tells it all. His denial of love for Christine, and Christine's free spirit and at the same time, her love for the older man is obvious from the very beginning. Well, its just a lovely, charming story and good race! Loved the "bus" boys also, and Terror! Even Gaza is a good actor that shows his ego get in the way and envy of the old coach. I would recommend this to all, men and women. Its good, romantic and funny."