All of us who love to run – or at least the idea of running – know the uncontested place that “Chariots of Fire” holds in the hearts of fellow run-folk. I do not wager to contest it’s place on that pedestal, but I do hope to suggest some lesser known movies that may equally inspire us to move.
10. Troy. Even if Orlando Bloom is an epic pansy, I have a lot of respect for Brad Pitt sprinting into a flying javelin lunge into the jugular of the enemy. Hate the man, but love his movies. (Have you not seen Snatch? Twelve Monkeys? Legends of the Fall?)
9. Forrest Gump. We all remember Tom Hanks sitting on the bench or fighting in ‘Nam. But it’s easy to forget him spending most of the 1980s on the road, running, coast to coast, offering wisdom, searching for meaning, and finding something. I’m not saying that the movie makes sense or that it’s a great movie, but if it is and if it does, it has something to do with the running.
8. 300. More ancient, epic sprinting into battle. More stylized slow-motion. What does 300 have that Troy doesn’t? About ten times more awesome. The story, the writing (Frank Miller!), the odds. The acting might even be better. Or it’s least people you’ve never heard of being slightly okay (as opposed to Eric Bana and Peter O’Toole being less good than you know they should be, maybe because the writing was terrible).
7. Braveheart. Let’s face it, if your life isn’t in danger or your not threatening someone else’s life, who really needs to run? Ah, for the good old days….
6. The Children of Men. …or a future so dangerous that the last hour of the movie is non-stop go-go-go, without decent footwear, to save the first last newborn of humanity. Perhaps the most intense movie of all time and thoughtful sci-fi at its best. And you were beginning to think that only historical war films made the list….
5. Die Hard. Speaking of footwear, how about barefoot? Sure, he’s indoors, but let us not forget Bruce Willis’s original heart-breaking, heart-rending, hard-dying tour-d’awesome. This is the film that started it all (didn’t it?). No, not the franchise, but the action-for-the-masses with one-liners galore.
4. Run, Lola, Run. (A.k.a. “Lola Rennt” auf deutsch). Franka Potente breaks land-speed records and violates the space-time continuum as she sprints across Berlin in real-time to save her semi-loser boyfriend. The tagline says it all – “Crazy love. Crazy fate.” She has twenty minutes to find 100,000 DM. We see her fate unfold in three different paths. Crazy fast.
3. Apocalypto. Warning: this is not a great movie. Yet it is a great running movie. Our hero escapes from nearly getting his heart cut out by the Mayan high priest, only to sprint through the jungle chased by a dozen enemy warriors, a jaguar, and a couple of conquistadors on his way to rescue his son and wife who is in labor. Dang! Don’t let Mel Gibson’s lack of PR keep you from this one. Unless you hate reading subtitles.
2. The Bourne Ultimatum. Conceivably, all three Bourne films could have made the list, but I chose to reserve a place for what I considered the most running-intensive. Let’s face it, 1 (The B. Identity) had the small car chase in Paris, 2 (The B. Supremacy) had the drunken car chase in Moscow, but 3 (The B. Ultimatum) had Damon spending more time on his feet, jumping off roof tops, through windows, etc. Okay, so the beginning and end were less runny, but the middle…. Dang!
1. The Last of the Mohicans. I know that a lot of people don’t love this movie. Maybe it’s that I hit puberty in the early 1990s. This movie rocks. It has it all: hiking, jogging, walking silently at night, and sprinting uphill, guns and axes in hand, for the whole last 30 minutes of the movie, Daniel Day Lewis (before he became evil – There Will Be Blood! – but still an artistic genius) on his way to rescue Madeline Stowe (before she dropped off the face of the earth) from certain death. Bonus: making fun of the French and the British, with plenty of pre-revolutionary fervor, and a glimpse of lacrosse back when it was a game for Native Americans and red necks.