In pursuit of success
A film based on British skierMichael Edwards’ life is coming to the Chinese mainland, withHugh Jackman as its star draw. Xu Fan reports.
British skier Michael Edwards charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, with his “heroic failure”. Despite finishing last in two sections of the Games, the athlete’s never-say-die attitude won him many fans.
Now, 28 years later, a biopic inspired by his legendary tale is ready to hit Chinese mainland theaters.
Opening on Friday, Eddie the Eagle dramatizes the skier’s unyielding pursuit to become the first in the sport to represent his country at the Olympics.
The film shows the many challenges Edwards faced, from his age — usually ski jumpers train very young, but he took to the sport as an adult — to money and Britain’s reluctance to send a somewhat comical and less-than-ready skier to represent the country in the world’s top sporting event.
But the courageous athlete realized his dream when he succeeded in landing safely after a jump in the 90-meter segment.
Edwards, 53, showed up at a recent Beijing event to promote the film and told reporters that the film “overwhelmingly” had things that symbolize his real life. He had earlier told BBC that “only 5 percent” of the film was true.
Through the film’s last 10 minutes, featuring his breathtaking leap, he says he has relived the closest reality in his memory.
“I can remember this more clearly than anything else, even if it has been 28 years. Like it happened to me yesterday … It still makes me cry,” he says.
The 105-minute feature stars British actor Taron Egerton in the title role and Australian star Hugh Jackman as Edwards’ unlikely genius coach.
Jackman, known for his X-Men (2000) film in China, says Edwards was a national hero in his youth in Australia.
“We all love Eddie and his representative spirit of having a goal and saying ‘yes’ to life,” says Jackman, sitting alongside Edwards.
For Egerton, known to Chinese fans from the 2015 hit Kingsman: The Secret Service, the biopic tells “an unusual sports story”.
“Eddie lets you feel anything possible in your life,” he says.
A typical opposite to Edwards in the film, Jackman’s Bronson Peary is a former ski jumper whose promising career takes a downturn due
is to alcoholism, and he is left to work as a depressed snowplow driver until he meets the athlete. Once he begins to coach Edwards, Peary regains his lost confidence.
Despite the film’s star attraction in Jackman, a major reason for Chinese moviegoers to visit the theaters, China’s sports authorities hope the film will lure more locals to participate in winter sports.
Beijing and the northernChinese city Zhangjiakou will jointly host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
This year’s Beijing International Film SportsWeek, an annual event to carry on with the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ spirit, signed an agreement with the biopic’s producer, 20th Century Fox, and plans to provide special screenings for professional athletes and sports enthusiasts.
Jiang Xiaoyu, deputy head of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association, hopes the film will get more cinema lovers interested in winter sports, a rise he has been noticing since July, when China won the bid to hold the Games.
But inspirational sports films such as Eddie the Eagle might find it difficult to crack the box office in a big way, trade analysts say.
Similar films To the Fore, based on cyclists’ story, and the American biopic Rush, on the real-life tales of two legendary Formula 1 drivers, were poorly received at mainland cinemas earlier.
Other than the genre’s weakness in drawing people to the cinemas, Eddie the Eagle will face a powerful rival in The Revenant, anotherHollywood film that will be released on the Chinese mainland the same day.
It has Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who has a huge fan base in the world’s second-largest movie market.
We all love Eddie and his representative spirit of having a goal and saying ‘yes’ to life.”
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EddietheEagle, starring Taron Egerton (above), is set to lure Chinese audiences who have increasing interest in winter sports.