Picture from Endurance
Overall A

Haile Gebrselassie took the world by surprise at the Atlanta Olympics Games in 1996. Endurance is a mix of documentary and re-enactment, subtitles and English, which offers a glimpse not only into this amazing Ethiopian runner's life, but also into the culture of his impoverished nation.

Violence A
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A

MPAA Rating: PG for brief nudity


In a well made movie the pictures and natural sounds tell as much of the story as the spoken dialogue. That's why Endurance is an easy film to watch for children and adults, even though half of the script isn't English. Through the incredible cinematography of Ivan Strasburg along with a wonderful score and sensational sound, the story of Haile Gebrselassie comes alive -- even if you can't/refuse to read subtitles.

In a classic tale of overcoming incredible odds, we follow the life of Gebrselassie, from childhood to the champion who took the gold medal for Ethiopia with a surprise come-from-behind finish in the 10,000 meter racing event at the Atlanta Olympics. With Gebrselassie playing himself (as an adult), and other family members and acquaintances holding many cast positions, this movie provides a unique and believable view into Ethiopian life.

In flashbacks we watch Gebrselassie begin his "training" in a part of the world that demands physical strength to simply stay alive. His six-mile run to school is followed by two slaps on each hand from the schoolmaster because Gebrselassie arrived late. After classes, another run home is followed by chores on the farm, or gathering wood and animal dung. Then there's the oft-made three-hour trek to get water.

On video, parents can help children enjoy Endurance by reading the subtitles and explaining Gebrselassie's situation, especially during a poignant scene when his mother becomes ill. However, this video may be a hard find (only Blockbuster had it in my community), even though it's a Disney film. Unlike anything I've seen Disney do in recent memory, it's a shame the studio isn't giving Endurance the promotional run it deserves.

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