Atletu (The Athlete) (2009)
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The inspiring true story of an Olympic champion who is faced with a new challenge provides the basis for this drama from filmmakers Rasselas Lakew and Davey Frankel. Abebe Bikila (Rasselas Lakew) was a world-class distance runner from Ethiopia who became the first African to win a gold medal in the Olympics when he came in first in the Marathon during the 1960 games in Rome -- while running in his bare feet. Bikila then repeated the feat at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, making him the first marathon runner to win the title twice in a row. But Bikila's career as a runner came to an abrupt end in 1969, when he was involved in a severe auto accident that cost him the use of his legs and limited the movement of his arms. However, Bikila was not about to give up competitive athletics, and after months in rehabilitation he took up a new sport -- archery. Despite his challenges, Bikila became a high-ranking amateur in competitive archery and helped to establish international athletic events for the handicapped, and in 1971 took on a new sport -- dog sled racing. Atletu (aka The Athlete) received its North American premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Atletu (The Athlete)
There are perhaps two better films lurking within "Atletu," one a more straightforward documentary and the other a narrative biopic, but this hybrid falls flat.
This is an ambitious and brave project which, if it doesn't quite reach the heights it might, is still a worthwhile watch and bodes well for both filmmakers in future.
Told through reconstruction and archive footage, the story of Ethiopian marathon legend Abebe Bikila can't muster the drama it deserves.
The essential simplicity of this tale about a true hero is often very moving.
It's a blend of documentary and drama, but while the archive clips of Bikila's victories are thrilling, the performances are flat and the script tired.
You feel that Bikila's admittedly amazing story would've been better transmitted through straight documentary or straight drama, not an uneasy bowlderisation of both.
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