It’s not very often we review movies on Snow.Guide, especially ones made in Hollywood that are on general release across the world, but as we were invited to the UK première on March 18th in Leicester Square, London, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give you our view of a film that has already been widely well received.
Fake snow and crowds on the red carpet at the première, in Leicester Square
If you’re into winter sports, the chances are you know who Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is and if you’re not into winter sports, the chances are you also know who he is. That’s a fairly unique position to be in as a British snowsports athlete, especially one who has never won a medal.
But that was never part of the attraction with Eddie Edwards and in fact whilst I’ve read many comments recently about the fact he was looked upon as a fool when back in 1988 he competed in the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary as a ski jumper, I only remember the opposite, everyone seemed to love him back then too. Certainly the British public, if not the winter sports establishment.
I remember being in Oxford Street circa 1989/89 for the opening of a major sports store with special guest Eddie the Eagle, who turned up on the top of a vehicle (possibly a VW Golf) and thousands of people lining the street cheering him on. We always loved the fact he pulled off what seemed like the craziest thing ever and the reality of it is that what he managed to achieve was, in fact, crazy.
The story starts with Eddie as a young boy in the backstreets of Cheltenham where he grew up, ‘training’ for an Olympic games whilst his grumpy, plasterer by trade, father (played by Keith Allen) scoffs at the very idea that his son, with a physical disability affecting his legs, could ever reach so far. (In reality, Eddie says his father was always supportive of his skiing).
It quickly moves onto the journey towards a Winter Olympic dream when Eddie spots an artificial ski slope near his home town (in real life, this was Gloucester Ski Centre, in the film, it was Bracknell Ski Centre). Eddie manages to secure a place in the British Alpine Ski Squad, but doesn’t meet the final criteria for the Olympics.
The movie script follows a path that is pretty close to reality but entwines artistic licence throughout which ultimately produces are more rounded, enjoyable film.
No more so than Eddie’s fictional coach, Bronson Peary, who is an American, former ski jumper who ended up driving a piste groomer in Garmisch, Germany. The heavy drinker is finally persuaded to take on the role of getting Eddie to the Olympic Games, despite his cynical take on the world of sport, the world in general and a large, hairy Norwegian ski jumping coach (Bjørn, played by Rune Tempt) who likes to get in the way.
Well, the rest, is history and of course we aren’t giving anything away by telling you that Eddie does make it to Calgary, and he does jump, land, come last and become the most famous ski jumper of all time, certainly to anyone outside of the sport anyway.
The opportunity to make a real hash of a movie like this must have presented itself on a platter to the actor turned director, Dexter Fletcher, but fortunately he’s managed to pull off what is a classic British movie that is going to appeal to a wide audience.
Whether you’re a fanatical skier or someone who’s never seen snow in their life, you’ll enjoy this film. I was scared that I’d keep picking holes in the detail and get frustrated they didn’t get some of the nuances right – that didn’t happen, and whether that was down to the level of detail they did achieve or the fact that the story itself made all of that irrelevant, didn’t matter one bit.
Some of the jump scenes are spectacular and give a true sense of what it must be like to launch down a 90 metre ramp and off the end at speeds of over 70 miles an hour. This all helps to put us in Eddie’s shoes, just a normal guy doing something extraordinary. Welsh actor, Taron Egerton (he’s from Aberystwyth as we discovered on the night as he proudly announced several times to the audience) was also extraordinary as Eddie The Eddie – the facial expressions, the glasses, the tash. You really can’t think of anyone better and considering it’s a mile off his super spy character in The Kingsman, it’s clear he’s an actor that will certainly be flying further than most.
The story itself is compelling, inspirational and scripted (by Sean Macaulay) in a fun, energetic and feel good way that is sentimental, but not sickly with it. It’s taken over ten years for the film to come to life after Macaulay wrote the initial screenplay, with various ‘Hollywood challenges’ preventing the movie from going into production. When Matthew Vaughn (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) stepped in as producer things clearly started to happen.
The real Eddie says it makes him cry when he watches it, clearly overwhelmed that a film about his life has actually been made. What is even more remarkable is that a movie, centred around ski jumping and a true story of a guy who gave it a go, made by a team of British filmmakers, more than reaches the required distance for qualification – in fact, at Snow.Guide we would certainly be giving it a gold medal for our movie of the year.
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