MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★
Despite coming out in 2008, Salute makes a belated but timely release in the UK, a nation of course on the verge of its own Olympic games. This is an Australian documentary telling the story of the famous Black Power salute during the victory ceremony of the 200m race at the 1968 games in Mexico, where African American medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos iconically raised black fisted gloves to the heavens as the Star Spangled Banner played. Interestingly, Salute spends the bulk of its time look at the podium’s third man, Peter Norman, a white Australian often overlooked but who nevertheless made the significant gesture of wearing a Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in solidarity with his fellow medalists to significant personal sacrifice.
The film is written, directed and produced by Matt Norman, Peter’s nephew which explains the decision to focus the film so much on the Australian. Whilst Peter Norman’s gesture was evidently commendable and symbolic (and in interviews he seems like a thoroughly good hearted man), you can’t help but feel you’re missing something by allowing his story to override that of Smith and Carlos. At one point it’s mentioned that Carlos’s wife committed suicide largely because of the reaction and torment which affected the family, but such unimaginable personal devastation isn’t followed up which really doesn’t seem right. The film also consists mainly of archival footage rather than new interviews which are of variable quality and often difficult to hear which obviously detracts from the film. However, despite the film’s faults it undoubtedly remains an engaging and powerful story told from an alternative perspective which leaves you feeling not entirely fulfilled but nevertheless interested, if not hugely enlightened.
Review by David Rank
Salute is out on 13th July in the UK. Certificate PG (UK).
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