Coming soon to theaters soon is the film Eddie The Eagle, the true story of Olympic Ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. As a young boy Eddie just simply did not have the athletic ability, nor the charisma, to sell himself, but he is determined no matter what to be the best athlete.
The film begins with him as a kid wanting to participate in the Summer Games. The opening montage comically shows that he simply can’t. As the film progresses, so do his challenges. One major theme throughout is to adjust to your challenges. As it even becomes clear to him that he simply isn’t athletic enough for the Summer Games, he eyes the Winter Games. It’s important to set a goal, and then be willing to work hard and adjust/change your goals to meet your desired outcome. When he faces adversity by the British Olympic committee and they continue to change the rules, he steps up to meet their challenge and works hard to succeed.
Everyone loves a triumphant underdog story. Even more, everyone loves an Olympic story. Even more, we love a story that comes down to our level and makes us think that it “could be us.” This is the “Rocky Syndrome” for sports films. This has been seen in such films as Rocky, Rudy, Invincible, and many others. We just love the idea of an everyman never giving up and accomplishing their goals through sheer will and self-determination. We also love it when the films are based on a true story, it makes it a little more real to us.
Like Rocky, this film has your titular hero who early on decided that it doesn’t matter whatever shortcomings he has, he is going to go and succeed in his goals. The first thing he needs to do is try it himself. Eddie first trains for the Summer Games alone, and then realizes he would be better doing the Winter Games. He then trains alone as well for those. He leaves his family in search of his dreams of being an Olympic ski jumper.
The next part of this hero’s journey is finding a mentor. Hugh Jackman plays Bronson Peary, a former ski jumping champion who now is a disheveled alcoholic who works on the ski mountain Eddie’s training at. Eddie annoyingly seeks out Hugh Jackman and eventually wears him down to train him. It should be noted that Bronson Peary is not a historical person, and was created strictly for the film. The mentor is there to first be a hardened shell of their former self, then through helping the hero, help themselves become a better person. The mentor provides their own life-lessons to imprint on the hero that usually pays off during the climax of the film. Speaking of “climax,” when Jackman as Peary is teaching Eddie how to properly land, he advised him to envision making love to Bo Derek, complete with all the bodily moves and facial reactions one would expect, and it plays off well in the end of the film.
After the hero has improved through their training, they then must face some strong obstacle to keep their drive alive. For Eddie, it’s the politics of the British Olympic qualifiers who simply don’t want him to participate. They continue to change the rules for how far he needs to jump, hence him needing to buckle down and try even harder. This allows him to continue working hard, and working with his mentor, strengthening their relationship. This also happens when Eddie makes it to the Olympics and finishes dead last. Instead of being celebrated as an athlete, he’s celebrated as a fool for his excitement for a dismal performance. He then realizes that he must try again, and try harder, which leads to the finale.
Finally, there is the climax of the film, where the hero has to put everything they have on the line and show the world what they are made of. This happens when Eddie goes to the 90m jump (which he was told earlier is a death sentence). Part of the hero’s journey is that he also fails, but fails with honor. Like Rocky who loses his first bout, Eddie also comes in last place, but he does his best with no shame. As a result, he can hold his head up high knowing he accomplished his goals. All in all this was a heartwarming, and inspiring tale of someone who never gave up and accomplished their dreams, carrying on the tradition of similar underdog tales. Check out Eddie The Eagle in theaters February 26th!