The Sunday Cult Film Corner: “The Loneliness Of the Long Distance Runner (1962)”

12 Aug

Christ my legs are in bits.

Oh sorry to be a bit of a moaning old shit-bag here. It’s just that I’ve been doing some heavy training today, the last before I undertake a supremely foolhardy challenge next weekend. Yes yours truly is going to be running the Reykjavik Marathon! Don’t laugh you fuckers! It’s true. It’s way too long and pointless to really go into the whys and  hows of the whole thing, but a drunken brag before Christmas last year meant that I’ve been pummeling the pavements and footpaths all over Reykjavik these past 7 months. I hate it. I hate this world and i hate running. Perhaps a tidal wave will hit Reykjavik this week so i can get out of it. Probably not.

But with this in mind i have to get back onto more pressing matters. Matters such as the latest instalment of our curates egg known as the SUNDAY CULT FILM CORNER!!!!!! (snarl..)

And because I’ve sent the beginning of this blog post moaning about running and stuff, I have a pretty timely and appropriate entry for this weeks episode. A film about freedom, rebellion, class struggle and the redemptive qualities of running. Ladies and Gentlemen, i give you THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER.

Directed in 1962 by Tony Richardson, it stars Tom Courtenay as Colin Smith. After being sent to a Borstal for robbing a bakery, Colin catches the eye of the strict governor for his abilities as a long distance runner. As his talents gain favouritism with the governor and jealousy with his fellow prisoners, Colin comes under pressure to win a cross-country race against a private school. the win would be a PR coup for the Borstal and Governor’s regime with the prisoners. Colin must decide whether to play ball and possibly gain early release of be true to his conviction and be his own man. As the film progresses, we’re told through flashback about Colin’s life and how he came to be arrested in the first place.

TLOTLDR is a one of the best examples of the “British New Wave” films that came out in the late ’50s/ Early ’60s, such as “Look Back In Anger”, “Saturday Night And Sunday Morning” and “This sporting Life”, which has the archetype “Angry Young Man” at the centre of it all. These films are not shy in showing just how shit and grey life was really like at the bottom rungs of the social ladder for young men at that time. They were yearning to break the shackles that were placed on them by their parents, peers and society at large at the time. And TLOTLDR is no exception. With a terminally sick father and an uncaring mother, Colin sees little future for him.apart from getting a job at the same place that has made his father sick. He’s certainly a guy that pissed off with the world and he wants to rebel against it any way he can.

The film itself is like many others in it´s canon. Forward thinking in it´s cinematography (it uses a lot of roaming outdoor shots and fast cutting scenes) and taut in it’s direction, for a film about rebellious youth, it’s not as black and white as it seems to be. Colin is certainly rebellious, but almost to the point of pig headedness, at times failing to see the bigger picture about what could be best for him. Meanwhile the governor is not a stereotypical prison warder. He is measured and rational, a man who merely just wants the borstal to win. In this the performances of Courtenay and Michael Redgrave (as the governor) are nothing short of brilliant.

So instead of watching that shit excuse for a closing ceremony, get a pint of warm bitter, some pork scratchings and watch some REAL Britishness, got that?….


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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Film


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