Anyone who has ever been inspired by watching well-trained runners practicing their craft has probably also been frustrated at the crude way those runners are portrayed on-screen in movies and made-for-TV specials. Now, Alison Wad, Writing in Runners World, has written a thoughtful study of the issue: “Why Running Movies So Often Look Unbelievable.”
Wade is much more respectful than I would be. Instead of mocking movies that get running spectacularly wrong, she delves into the reasons and gives lots of examples. Among other things, she points out that by the time a script is turned into a movie or show, the original writer — who presumably knew what he or she was writing about — might be long gone, leaving the director few clues about how to portray the story.
If I had nothing else to do, I think it would be an interesting project to compile a list of movies in which running is featured and rate each one based on multiple criteria such as:
- Are the actors convincing as runners?
- Are the training scenes realistic/accurate?
- Are the race scenes realistic/accurate?
- Is the story plausible?
It strikes me that this list would only apply to portrayals meant to be taken seriously. There are plenty of scenes where running is being used to comment on something else (“Forrest Gump,” for example, or “Juno”).
I wonder if someone has already done something like this?
Anyway, you should read the article and watch the film clips. (Watching the running scene from “Chasing a Dream” was like hearing a Beethoven string quartet played on kazoos.)