‘It’s Spiritual Man’: Eddie the Eagle (2016) and English Amateurism.

Journal article


Robinson, M. 2019. ‘It’s Spiritual Man’: Eddie the Eagle (2016) and English Amateurism. Journal of British Cinema and Television. 16 (2), p. 170–190.. https://doi.org/10.3366/jbctv.2019.0467
AuthorsRobinson, M.
Abstract

The theme of amateurism has been persistent throughout the history of the British biopic, evidenced in films including Scott of the Antarctic (1948), The Magic Box (1951) and The Flying Scotsman (2006). Eddie the Eagle (2016), a film about ski-jumper Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards and his preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics where he finished 73rd out of 73 competitors, exemplifies how fascination with the amateur continues in contemporary biopic production. However, Eddie the Eagle represents the amateur ethos within a particularly unstable period for organised sports. The integrity of the Olympics and organised sports in general has been undermined by persistent corruption which centres on hosting rights, bribery, and the use of performance-enhancing drugs by competitors. This article traces the genealogy of the amateur in British biopics, before considering the wider context in which Eddie the Eagle was produced. It then employs textual analysis of key sequences to illuminate the film’s representation of amateurism and how it is constructed through oppositions: the value of amateurism against professionalism and the struggle of the outsider against the sporting Establishment. It suggests that Eddie the Eagle continues a theme at the heart of various British biopics, namely, the integrity of the amateur, the value of taking part and ‘doing one’s best’, at a time when the integrity of organised sport is increasingly under threat.

Keywordsbiopic; amateur; sport; Olympics; nostalgia; Eddie Edwards; Eddie the Eagle
Year2019
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Journal citation16 (2), p. 170–190.
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
ISSN1743-4521
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3366/jbctv.2019.0467
Web address (URL)https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/10.3366/jbctv.2019.0467
Accepted author manuscript
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All rights reserved
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Open
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Restricted
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
OnlineApr 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted2019
Deposited04 Aug 2022
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