“The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” – A Movie (and short story) Review

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(I am still working on a few race recaps (I’m almost done with Ragnar!) but here’s something to keep you entertained until then).

Made in 1962, this black and white movie wasn’t what I really expected. I must not have read the synopsis before adding it to my NetFlix queue. I probably just saw the words “distance runner” and clicked add.

The movie has been sitting on my desk for about a month because I haven’t had a chance to watch it (when I do movie reviews, I like to be able to pay pretty close attention, unlike other times where I will just put movies on for back ground noise). I finally got a day off with absolutely no plans, and after running some errands, I put in the movie and sat down to watch.

The opening scene, in black and white, shows a man running down the road while the actors’ and directors’ names are displayed. Not going to lie, by the title, I thought it was a documentary. The next scene shows kids in hand cuffs on a school bus, all looking grim.

Puzzled, I finally picked up the DVD slip and read the synopsis: “Colin Smith is a typical young man determined to fight the system at every turn. With no interest in school or in the factory job waiting him, he turns to a life of petty crime alongside his friend Mike. A botched robbery lands the two in reform school where a school official sees Colin’s hidden talent. Conflicted and bitter, Colin must decide whether to nurture his ability as a runner or once again rebel against authority.”

992After reading that and seeing what year it was made, I honestly probably wouldn’t have added it to my queue, but, I already had it sitting on my desk for a long time, so I decided to give it a chance.

It starts of slow. Like, REALLY slow, as do a lot of movies from that time frame. I had a hard time following who was who and what was going on, they all look like the same people in black and white to me! HA! They finally get to the running part about 20 to 30 minutes in when the main character’s talent is found. While running with his house-mates, he passes all the runners and the dean of the school is determined to win the cross-country race. Or course, the second fastest runner, the house leader, gets super jealous and fights Colin.

The movie goes on the show him training which involves a lot of long, boring running scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I love running, but a fiction movie about running isn’t very entertaining, in my opinion. There is also a love story, of course, in between all the running scenes. The movie is intertwined with the hard ships of being in a reform school and the battle to stay out of crime.

I wont tell you how it ends, just in case you decide to watch it, but it actually doesn’t end how you think it would. (The link towards the bottom has more info and tells you how it ends).

After reading my opinions, If you think you’d enjoy it, check it out, but I don’t necessarily recommend it.

200px-TheLonelinessOfTheLongDistanceRunnerAfter doing some light research, I found out that the movie was actually made based on a short story written in 1959 by Alan Sillitoe (hehehe, funny name). So I tried to see if I could find it. Sure enough, I found a PDF of the book and started reading it. My gosh, the book was just as hard to read as the movie was to watch. I felt like the book was run-on-sentence after run-on-sentence; paragraph after paragraph. There would be two to three pages all on the same thing, just written five different ways. I didn’t even make it a chapter before I started skimming it. For the half I did read, it seems like the movie and book as pretty much exactly the same.

There was one idea I did like. In the book, he describes the loneliness of the long distance runner is like being the first and last man left on earth. Think about that for a while. I love that idea.

More info on the movie (SPOILERS)

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner – The Book (This is a PDF internet link)

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