Cool Runnings apparently means Peace be the Journey in Jamaica.
Brilliant, funny film which demonstrates several of the Ben Franklin principles that we are looking at this week. But it should be remembered that this Holywood’s interpretation of a real event so there is some artistic license taken with the characterization and events. Nevertheless it admirably illustrates the virtues of persistence, courage and kindness.
Firstly, three of the main characters experience disaster when they trip in the final stretch of the qualifying race for the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and are disqualified.
Persistence proves successful eventually, firstly with Derice who finally convinces the coach, Irv ( John Candy) to take them on as a bobsled team and then Irv when he sees these boys have real potential because with training their sprinting expertise will give them an edge at the start of the bobsled race.
Detrice, Yul and Junior, the three sprinters, have been used to relying on themselves in their sport and now they have to learn to work as a team.
For some reason Yul is a very prickly character and has erected impenetrable barriers around himself which he reinforces by telling everyone not to touch him and being very aggressive and hostile.
Junior, the rich kid, has no confidence despite his ability as a sprinter. His father has told him what to do all his life and he crumbles in the face of his father’s authority. He feels responsible for tripping the other two and sells his car to help finance the trip. It may have been motivated by guilt but he didn’t have to do it and it was an act of kindness and generosity.
Sanka who was the fastest push-cart racer on the island is the joker of the pack and goes with the flow.
The dynamic between them gradually changes as they learn to work as a team and Yul’s barriers eventually come down. He teaches Junior the he is a man, not a little boy any longer, and that he can stand up to his overbearing father.
When they can’t seem to get off to a fast enough start in the race Senka speaks up and points out that it is because they are trying to copy the other competitors methods which are not their methods. He reminds them that they are Jamaicans and have their own style and should be themselves. So by doing things their way they make a great leap off the start and qualify for the Olympics.
Before the big race Derice finds out that Coach Irv, who had been a two gold medal winner, had been stripped of his medals and disqualified for cheating. Winning had become his all consuming ambition and in his mind the end justified the means and he lost his way and his sense of who he was.
The big day arrives and the team make a really fast start and are contenders for a medal when disaster strikes and there is a spectacular crash just a few yards from the finish. Bruised and battered but undaunted Derice says they have to finish the race and the four heft the broken bobsled onto their shoulders and walk to the finish line to tumultuous applause.
Their persistence and courage earned them the respect of every other Olympian in Calgary in 1988. They proved themselves and competed at the next Olympics as equals.
The moral that I got from this story is that persistence and courage pays off but it is important to be true to yourself and remember who you are whatever the circumstances.