Monday, September 20, 2010

'Into The Wind' - A modest review

Steve Nash and Ezra Holland's 30-for-30 documentary about Terry Fox, Into The Wind, begins with an old, grainy shot from 1980 of a baby-faced man with curly hair dipping a prosthetic right leg into the Atlantic Ocean.

When the trumpets sound and the judge looks back at my life, as a 22-year old, they'll see me in my couch and sweatpants on a Sunday night watching sports highlights. At 22, Port Coquitlam's Terry Fox, a cancer victim and an amputee, ran a marathon a day across the country, raising more than $1.7 million for cancer research before being forced to abandon his run more than halfway across the country.

Nash and Holland do a fantastic job of sorting through pictures, news footage, radio interviews, and Fox's own diary entries to chronicle the conception and denouement of the Marathon of Hope, an impossible, near superhuman, run across Canada with friend Doug Alward, later joined by brother Darrell Fox and Bill Vigars of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The 30-for-30 franchise is produced by ESPN, thus with a major American audience in mind. They won't see this documentary on their screens until next Tuesday. Nash does a terrific job at capturing just how vast and sparse Canada is, and how impressive Fox's unfinished accomplishment truly was. The narrative never explicitly lets the audience know that Fox didn't complete the journey and died just a month before his 23rd birthday, but anybody would be able to notice the tears in the eyes of Leslie Scrivener of the Toronto Star, and Alward and Vigars and realize how the story ends, as well as the absence of Fox interviews, instead with his diary entries read by narrator Taylor Kitsch.

"He's in Toronto, and he's going to make it to the coast," Betty Fox, Terry's mother, says at one point during a happy 1980 interview as the scene cut to a commercial. Nash is a tearjerking son of a bitch.

The film did everything it could do. It gave greater focus to the athletic accomplishment and resiliency of Fox over the cancer aspect of his story. ESPN is primarily a sports network, after all, and the Fox story from a pure athletic standpoint is amazing, and one that any American even, should surely appreciate. He ran 26 miles a day fighting unwanted publicity, conflicts with his teammates and false media reports as his celebrity faded towards the end of his run.

This documentary is not about who we lose to cancer, but rather about the potential that every human being has. Fox's tale is inspiring, and Nash is a terrific storyteller. Canadians tend to love seeing stories about Canada appear in American and world medias, and Into The Wind is an excellent film which will show the world a Canadian folk hero who has unfortunately been overlooked by the rest of the world.

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