With the Summer Olympics returning this year, it is fitting that the movie “The Boys in the Boat” was released. This movie depicts the University of Washington rowing team that competed at the Berlin 1936 Summer Olympics. It is quite an uplifting story, how nine working-class men coming out of the depths of the Great Depression bonded together to be the greatest rowing team of their time.
Directed by the renowned George Clooney, this film was accompanied by high expectations. It was inspired by the book written by Daniel James Brown, sharing the same title as the movie. This book was also the inspiration for the PBS documentary “The Boys of ‘36.”
The dramatic race at the Olympics was hosted by Berlin, during the rise of the Nazi Regime. It ended with what seemed like a tie. It was considered one of the greatest eight-oared races ever, with the three top finishers,US, Italy and Germany, separated by a single second. This was a turbulent time in world history, as things were slowly starting to build up to World War II, and the movie does a good job of portraying historical background.
Casting for the movie was well done, with names such as Callum Turner (plays Theseus Scamander in the “Fantastic Beasts” movies series,) Sam Strike (most notable for role in TV mini series “Chernobyl”) and Jack Mulhern (plays “Grizz” in the “The Society” on Netflix and will soon be in the Pet Sematary Prequel for Paramount Plus.)
These three men that were casted had a stronger physique than the actual boys in the boat, mainly because of the lack of food available during the Great Depression. This might’ve been a historical discrepancy, but it didn’t take away from the movie, and the audience approves of the casting choices.
Most of the filming took place in the Upper Thames Rowing Club in Henley, England, not in the US where most of the historical events took place. A reason for the film location change was for tax purposes. Regardless, it was a beautiful setting, and the film crew did an amazing job of making the landscape similar to how it was back in the day. It was neat to see how people watched races back then, with moving trains as the stands to keep up with the boats, and how sporting events have evolved since.
George Clooney sums up the rowing team’s endeavors, stating that they “Gotta beat the seniors, and then you gotta beat the legacy schools, and then you gotta beat the rich kids, and then you gotta beat Hitler. The final bad guy [is] Hitler.” This movie shows the triumph of the rowing team, in the midst of the growing Nazi Germany, and there are very patriotic themes throughout the film.
Overall, it was an uplifting movie, showing how these young working class men were able to rise out of the hardships experienced by that generation of Americans. It stayed true to the story, and while it might have been cheesy at times, the movie is enjoyable to watch for all ages.
Photo Credits: IMDb