FILM REVIEW: Salute
By Grace Cook on August 7, 2012 in Film
There could not be a more appropriate time for Tyneside Cinema to screen Salute. With the nation currently caught up in Olympic fever, the whole world is behind its sporting athletes, and the Olympics in the present day is a time for each individual nation to feel proud.
Backtrack 44 years and the games told an otherwise different story. America was caught up in one of the most significant civil rights movements of its time; unrest dominated society as a result of racial segregation, and the nation fought a horrific battle of black versus white, for which Martin Luther King was assassinated for his efforts. The year was 1968, and whilst black society worldwide fought against racism and discrimination, the Olympic games were taking place in Mexico.
Black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos happened to score gold and bronze medals in the 200m sprint. The second place silver medal was awarded to the Australian competitor Peter Norman, and during the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos raised their black-gloved fists as a symbol of black power. In other words, their silent actions were a protest against the unjust discrimination that was occurring all over the world, with this image becoming one of the most iconic Olympic moments of all time.
Salute is an inspirational documentary about the lives of those three medalled athletes. Directed by the Australian’s nephew Matt Norman, Salute offers a candid portrayal of how the actions of such inspirational athletes have changed the face of the nation today. Using only original video and interview footage, Norman gives an insight into the repercussions of such actions, and how the athletes who should have been poster-boys for the next generation ended up being banned from further Olympic games.
Smith and Carlos sacrificed their moment of glory upon the victory dias to fight for what they believed in, and Peter Norman was cast out by his nation for declaring his support for the equality movement. It’s hard to imagine now that black athletes would have to make such a stand to fight for equality, after the whole world sat glued to the television to watch sprinter Usain Bolt triumph with his gold medal win to be celebrated as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Salute is an absolute must-see, seeking to tell the untold story behind the bad press the three athletes were unjustly given. Matt Norman really brings home the fact that, despite much still needing to be done to eradicate racial discrimination, we are privileged to live in a society where athletes can be accepted and celebrated for their unbelievable talents, regardless of colour or origin.
- Banned Films That Changed Cinema