by Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster
‘Eddie the Eagle’ is a “based on a true story” biographical sports film that is guaranteed to make you smile. It’s a heartwarming, feel-good film about Michael Edwards (Taron Egerton), the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games first British ski jumper. Eddie the Eagle, as he was eventually named by the fans and the media, became a controversial and popular athlete.
The film depicts Eddie as a child who had a single-minded goal to compete in the Olympics. His father was a tough critic, always reminding Eddie that he was not an athlete and that he would not succeed. Even at that, Eddie remained loving and good-natured toward his father. His mother encouraged him and always offered her strong support. He was a kid with high hopes and a good imagination about how to bring those hopes to fruition.
Facing huge financial challenges, not to mention lack of coaching and mentoring, Eddie meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former Olympic ski jumper hot shot once coached by Warren Sharp (Christopher Walken). Bronson is now down on his luck and drowning his sorrows as he commandeers the snow plow at a ski jump training site. Peary reluctantly gives Eddie some pointers, and those helpful hints combined with Eddie’s unbridled tenacity, set him in motion to follow his dream and try to make it come true.
The film probably won’t draw huge crowds, but given the obsession most kids have with sports today, there is potential for the film to be a big hit with families. There is an all-around spirit of “can-do” and a strong example of self-esteem that may serve as an inspiration to young people who find their aspirations squelched or simply need a good old Hollywood boost. In fact, all of us can use a dose of Eddie the Eagle as we face into challenges in our own lives.
The obvious theme of the film is that if you keep at it you will be successful. But the deeper meaning of Eddie’s story is a tribute to the strength of the human spirit; and for that wisdom we turn to Julian of Norwich who said:
“He did not say, ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work weary, you shall not be discomforted.’ But He said, ‘You shall not be overcome.’”
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, they both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith at Faith Reels