One of the greatest athletes in U.S. history, Jesse Owens also bore the burden of not only enduring racial oppression in the US, but of being a symbol for fighting against it abroad and at home. So it is that with a provocative double entendre title like Race, it should be obvious that the upcoming biopic from Focus Features that focuses on his record-smashing appearance at the 1936 olympics is going to make the racist climate of the time front and center.
In the new trailer, we see how even as Owens is being asked to stand up as a symbol of how America was better than Nazi Germany, he’s forced to deal with humiliating racism at home while being pressured by people from all sides about his decision to join the US Olympic team at the Berlin Olympics. I’m a fan of how contemporary in presentation, compared to what one usually sees with historical biopics, this film looks. For one thing, Jason Sudeikis’ portrayal of legendary coach Larry Snyder is surprisingly modern-feeling; for another, the soundtrack of (at least) trailer is absolutely not period. Works for me though. The question of whether it will for everyone else will have to wait until next year. Starring Stephan James as Jesse Owens and directed by Stephen Hopkins from a script by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, Race hits theaters February 19, 2016.