Movies. Encyclopedia of World Sport

It is now over 100 years since Edweard Muybridge carried out his celebrated series of “moving pictures” at
the University of Pennsylvania. He was fascinated by
the kinesiological examination of “beings” in motion.
He studied and photographed runners, jumpers, walkers, race horses. While Muybridge was a scientist and a
researcher, the early filmmakers at the end of the 19th
century and into the 20th century capitalized upon a public who, in increasing numbers, enjoyed the spectacle of organized boxing.
Throughout the 20th century, British, European,
and Australasian cinema makers have also realized
that sporting scenarios make wonderful cinema.
Harvey Marc Zucker and Lawrence J. Babich edited
Sports Films in 1987 and it continues to be the definitive
source book for students of sports film. The book contains a list of 2,042 titles divided into 17 categories—
baseball, basketball, boxing, football, golf, horses and
other animals, Olympics, track and field, skates, soccer,
rugby, cricket, hurling, tennis, handball, Ping-Pong, water sports, wheels, winter sports, wrestling, other sports,
athletes in films, and actors’ portrayals. The National
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at Cooperstown,
New York, chronicles 83 baseball movies dating back to
Little Sunset and Right Off the Bat.
Sports movies, in recent years, have enjoyed a
marked degree of Academy Award recognition. In 1976
the movie Rocky, a story about a mumbling, no-hope
boxer called Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) won the
Oscar for Best Picture. In 1980, another boxing movie,
called Raging Bull, was a serious Oscar contender. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film explored the turmoil that was the real life of boxer Jake LaMotta
(Robert DeNiro). Raging Bull was nominated for Best
Picture and DeNiro won the Oscar for Best Actor.
The following year Chariots of Fire, a fictionalized
account of Scotland’s Eric Liddell and England’s Harold
Abrahams running track at the 1924 Paris Olympics,
earned three Oscars—for Best Picture, Costume Design, and Original Musical Score.
A close examination of the 1980s Oscar nomination
for Best Picture reveals a succession of scenarios with
significant, and often critical, sporting/athletic elements. For example, in The Right Stuff (1983) the physiological testing of the American astronauts highlights
their athleticism; the 1984 nomination A Soldier’s Story
is a taut tale of murder, racism, and hatred set around
the members of a black World War II U.S. Army baseball team; the 1987 film Hope and Glory is about childhood reminiscences of World War II in England, and
cricket conversations neatly tie together a father and
son; Dangerous Liaisons (1988) contains memorable,
frenetic fencing action in a concluding duel to the
death; and Field of Dreams (1989) remains the definitive philosophical baseball movie.
Today, the actual film location of Field of Dreams,
outside of Dyersville, Iowa, has become a living museum. Baseball lovers come from all over the world to
pay their respects to the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson
and Doc Graham, and play ball on a homemade diamond. The baseball field snuggles up to the surrounding cornfields, and yet the overwhelming sensation is
of open plains, and the vast and dominating skyscape
of the heartland of America.