[NFBMO] Cool Runnings!

Steve Cook stanley7709 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 5 09:50:53 UTC 2021

Hi Missouri Federation Family!

Come join the National Federation of the Blind of SC for movie night on Friday, August 6, 2021, at 8:00 PM Eastern for audio described movie night! 

In honor of the Summer Olympics, we will be showing the movie Cool Runnings! Below is more information about the movie.

In November 1987, Jamaican sprinter Derice Bannock trains to qualify for the 100 metres in the 1988 Summer Olympics. He fails to qualify when fellow runner Junior Bevil accidentally stumbles, knocking himself, Derice, and Yul Brenner down.

Derice vents his frustrations to Barrington Coolidge, the President of the Jamaica Olympic Association. He spots a photograph in Coolidge’s office, featuring his late father Ben, standing next to a fellow Olympic gold medal winner. Coolidge identifies the man as disgraced American bobsled medallist Irv Blitzer, who was disqualified for cheating in the 1972 Winter Olympics. Derice realises he could participate in the 1988 Winter Olympics by forming a bobsled team, recruiting his friend Sanka Coffie, a pushcart derby champion.

Blitzer, working in Jamaica as a bookie, at first refuses to help Derice, until learning he is Ben Bannock’s son. A recruitment drive fails, but the arrival of Junior and Yul allows Derice to form the required four-man bobsled team. The team train with Blitzer, though Coolidge refuses to fund the $20,000 needed to participate in the Olympics, believing the inexperienced team will bring shame to Jamaica. The team find various ways to raise the money, ranging from singing on the street to arm wrestling. Junior, who avoids telling his father about the team, sells his car to finance the trip to Canada.

In Calgary, Blitzer registers the team, receiving an old bobsled from his former teammate Roger. The Jamaicans struggle to drive the bobsled and adapt to the cold, though exercise and hard work eventually pay off. Derice begins to copy the techniques of the Swiss team. Sanka, Junior, and Yul get into a bar fight with the snobbish East German team, and are reprimanded by Derice.

The team successfully qualifies for the finals, only to be disqualified by the Olympic committee, as retribution for Blitzer’s prior cheating scandal. Blitzer confronts Kurt Hemphill, his former coach, now a judge in the committee, asking him not to punish the Jamaicans, as they had nothing to do with his cheating scandal. That night, the team are informed that they have been reinstated. On the night the Olympics formally open, Junior’s father arrives to retrieve his son, but Junior stands by his commitment to compete, earning Yul’s respect.

The team’s first day on the track is abysmal, finishing in last place. Sanka realises Derice is copying the Swiss team’s methods, and encourages the team to 'bobsled Jamaican'. They improve on the second day, finishing in eighth place. During their final race, one of the bobsled’s blades detaches, causing it to flip over and crash. Determined to finish the race, the Jamaicans pick up their bobsled and carry it across the finish line, earning the applause of the other teams and the spectators. An epilogue explains the team would return home as heroes, then return to the 1992 Winter Olympics to participate as equals.

John Candy as Irving "Irv" Blitzer
Leon Robinson (credited as Leon) as Derice Bannock
Doug E. Doug as Sanka Coffie
Rawle D. Lewis as Junior Bevil
Malik Yoba as Yul Brenner
Raymond J. Barry as Kurt Hemphill
Peter Outerbridge as Josef Grool
Paul Coeur as Roger
Larry Gilman as Larry
Charles Hyatt as Whitby Bevil
Winston Stona as Barrington Coolidge
Bertina Macauley as Joy Bannock
Kristoffer Cooper as Winston
Bob Del Torre as USA team Driver
Martin Hub as Czech Bobsled Driver
Filming locations
The film was shot in Calgary and Jamaica in February and March 1993. The cast and crew filmed in Calgary first, to take advantage of the snow. Then they filmed at the Jamaican parishes of Discovery Bay and Kingston.[1] Dawn Steel was on the set every day in Calgary and Jamaica. According to Robinson, "(Steel) worked on the second unit for a while, and she said 'Never again. I never want to direct.'"[3]

Differences between real life and film

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Jamaicans were disqualified temporarily by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but it was not an appeal by the coach that led the IOC to reverse this decision. The IOC received several appeals to reverse their decision, including one from Prince Albert of Monaco.[21]

While the Jamaicans did crash their bobsled on their third out of four scheduled runs, the film implied the team was a medal contender, having run a world record pace prior to the crash. In reality, they were in 24th place (out of 26) after their first run was completed in 58.04. Their second run was completed in 59.37, which was the next-to-worst time (25th). On the third run, they had the worst time (1:03.19, good for 26th place), due to the crash, which was almost five seconds behind the 25th fastest run. Of the 103 runs that were completed in the four-man competition, nobody else posted a time over one minute. So after three runs, the Jamaicans were in 26th (last) place with a cumulative time of 3:00.60 after three runs. This placed them 3.23 seconds behind Portugal for 25th place, and 10.19 seconds behind the Soviet team that was in third-place heading into the final run. If they had taken part in the final run, they would have had to complete a world-record shattering time under 48.00 seconds to bring home a medal.[22]

In the film, the crash happens on the third and final run and is depicted to have been caused by a mechanical failure in the front left blade of the sled. As the driver steers, a nut and bolt on the control column work loose, eventually causing a loss of control as the bobsleigh comes out of a turn and subsequently crashes.

In reality, the crash happened in the third out of four runs, and it was deemed that driver inexperience, excess speed, and regressing the turn too high caused the sled to become unstable and top-heavy seconds prior to it toppling onto its left side. The team did not start the fourth and final run.

Real TV footage of the actual crash was used in the film but was heavily edited to fit in with the film's version of the crash. Both the run and the high speed crash were disorienting: team member Nelson Chris Stokes "felt a bump" when they tipped but did not realize they had turned over until he started to smell his helmet (which was fiberglass) friction-burning on the ice, "which is something that stays with you for many years afterward."[23]

After the crash, the film depicted the Jamaicans carrying their sled on their shoulders to the finish to a slow-building standing ovation. In reality, they did not carry the sled but walked next to it. When the sled tipped, they were doing 130 km/h (81 mph), and their helmets scraped against the wall for 600 m (2,000 ft) until they came to a stop.[24] They also received somewhat sporadic applause, less than the crescendo response in the movie,[25] but the real bobsled driver Dudley Stokes cites the spectator applause as the reason the run turned from tragedy to triumph for him.[24]

Four-man sled vs two-man sled
The film also gives the impression that the Jamaicans were the only team from Central America and the Caribbean. This was the case in the four-man sled competition, which the movie focuses on. However, in the two-man competition there was also a bobsled team from Netherlands Antilles which finished 29th (one place ahead of Jamaica's two-man sled team) and two teams from United States Virgin Islands which finished 35th and 38th.[26]

The film focuses entirely on the four-man bobsled team, which crashed their sled and finished last out of the 26 teams, as all 25 other teams were able to complete all four runs. It ignores the fact that two members of the team (Dudley Stokes and Michael White) also competed in the two-man sled competition and successfully completed all four runs, finishing in 30th place out of 38 teams that finished all runs, with three other teams which did not finish. The remaining members of the four man sled team were Devon Harris and Chris Stokes (Dudley's younger brother).[27] In fact the whole formation of the bob-sleigh project as depicted in the film is incorrect. The film depicts them as forming the team as a four-man bobsleigh team right from the start. In reality, they started the project intending to compete in the two-man bobsleigh event only. They only decided to compete in the four-man event after having already completed the two-man event in Calgary.[21]

Other differences
In the movie, the weather is depicted as bitterly cold with a temperature of −25 °C (−13 °F). Actual temperatures in Calgary during the Games were well above normal, including some daytime highs above 16 °C (61 °F).[28]

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Steve Cook
District 2 State Board Member of the National Federation of the Blind of SC
President of the Columbia chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of SC
1st Vice President of the Computer Science & Technology Division of the National Federation of the Blind of SC
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