This Sporting Life

This Sporting Life

DVD - 1998
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The story of a professional rugby player who carries the violence of the football field into every area of his life.


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Sep 04, 2010

This is why there IS a Richard Harris: not to mumble “I have a son out there…” or shout “Run boy, RUNNNNN!!!!” nor even to hide beneath a plethora of fake facial fur but to ACT! There’s a scene where Frank wins his first test match and he stands tall against the scoreboard and the sky… every muscle, every sinew, every element of Harris acts the part of a man knowingly at the top of his form. It almost brings a tear to my eye! In another scene, Frank comes flying off a bus like the center of a hurricane. It’s as if he’s too full of life to contain it. As one character tells him: “Ya git fah too excited lad!” Harris portrays this excitement perfectly. He plays rugby as if his life depended on it… and it does. During the game he and the other players get so down and dirty that it becomes difficult to tell them from the muddy ground they play on. But, while Frank realizes that “I’m not gonna be a footballer forever. I need something permanent,” he just doesn’t get that the real game is not on the playing field. There’s an excellent scene where Frank stumbles onto a mass of converging/diverging railroad tracks. Silent, iron strong and definite in their direction the tracks lay in wait. Suddenly a train, invisible to us, rushes past while Frank stands by helplessly watching. Harris has a look on his face that tells us Frank knows, if only somewhere deep in his soul, that he is on the way down… he’s missed the train… it’s rushed on without him.

This is great acting, no doubt about it, and Harris is not the only excellent actor here. Rachel Roberts is right there with him throughout the entire film giving every inch for her character, and equally self-tortured human lost and confused in this game of life. The scene in which Mrs. Hammond finally allows herself to smile, and even laugh, is a revelation of depth and nuance. In addition, there is a wonderful cast of supporting characters who create a substantial foundation for these two as they scale the heights.

But acting is not the only part of movie making and this film has much, much more. The music by composer Roberto Gerhard is absolutely astonishing! It perfectly captures the seriousness of the story and amplifies it to herculean proportions, giving weight and depth to the visuals. The visuals themselves are totally astounding. Each and every scene is shot as if using the zone system, with every gradation of shade from hellish black to celestial white… EVERY SCENE! This is quite an accomplishment and the results are beyond belief. Try watching the film with the sound off noticing the white & black (and shades of gray). I think you’ll find something far past your ordinary B&W flick.


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