Sport has featured in film and the cinema in a variety of genres, rather than constituting any single identifiable genre of the sporting film. These have included the biopic, the treatment of the biography (or a selected part of the life) of a single individual; the documentary, reconstructing and analysing a particular event or experience; the adaptation of a fictional text; the (approximate) historical reconstruction of famous deeds or achievements in their social and cultural context; and the newsreel. Recurrent narrative motifs in sport films have been the failure–success dynamic and the process of the comeback; the rags-to-riches story of sporting achievement; the identity politics that sporting cultures can address, in terms of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity; and the athlete–coach relationship. The sporting context itself—the action and the contest—is far from easy to capture on screen, though there are cases where the boxing match or the athletics race has been conveyed credibly; but the most effective sport-based film is frequently the one where the sporting action is a context and a backdrop against which wider themes and motifs are played out. See also Chariots of Fire; North Dallas Forty; Olympia; One Day in September; Personal Best; Seabiscuit; This Sporting Life; Triumph of the Will; Visions of 8.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.