Adapted from David Storeys novel of the same title THIS SPORTING LIFE is a gritty unblinking look at life in the coal mining region of Northern England as seen through the eyes of Frank Machin (Richard Harris). Produced by Karel Reisz who made the acclaimed film about working class life SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING and directed by Lindsay Anderson THIS SPORTING LIFE brings realism to both the brutal violence of the rugby matches it portrays and to the emotional and physical violence in the characters lives. When Frank Machin leaves the mine where he has always worked and signs a contract with a professional Rugby team he hopes to gain social standing and respect. But he finds the hero worship of the drunken fans distasteful. While the owner of the team praises Machin as his star player in the privacy of the locker room he snubs him in public. Machins need to love and be loved is compellingly conveyed by Harris with the same startling immediacy as is his raw physical power. He forcefully seduces his landlady Mrs. Hammond (Rachel Roberts) into a doomed love affair. As things continue to go downhill for Machin the film captures the mood and feel of this grey industrial area in muted tones achieving a documentary authenticity. The nighttime shots use a silvery shine enhancing the feeling of human alienation. Though this parable of working-class life in England is hardly uplifting the combination of its vibrancy Harriss sexually charged performance and Andersons edgy visual style give it a place not only among the great sports movies but among the best of all British films.
Release Date: 31 March 2008
Certificate: 12 - Suitable for Persons Aged 12 or Over
Running Time: 128 minutes
Production Year: 1963
Main Language: English