Salute

"Good"

Salute Review


Despite the ropey technical quality of the source material, this documentary tells such a powerful story that it's hugely engaging. As it progresses, we get thoroughly involved in the momentous events. And it recounts well-known events with never-heard details.

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, America was stunned when two athletes (Smith and Carlos) raised their fists in a black power salute while receiving their gold and bronze medals, while Australian silver medalist Norman stood in solidarity. This was the culmination of months of race riots in both the US and Australia, as well as a student uprising in Mexico City that was brutally suppressed by the police (2,000 students were killed) and ignored by the media.

All three runners went on to suffer for their actions, even as they became civil rights leaders.

Being an Australian doc, this is Norman's story, an perspective that offers a more offhanded approach as well as dryly humorous touches and the avoidance of both sentimentality and patriotism. Filmmaker Norman (Peter's nephew) holds the story together with home video footage of the three athletes reuniting after many years. The low-quality makes it clear that this wasn't shot with a documentary in mind; it looks and sounds pretty awful. But the material itself is invaluable.

Along with their coaches, Olympic teammates and others, these three men trace the events in telling detail, filling in the story with riveting personal touches. Meanwhile, the film's narration and archive newsreel footage make sure we understand the context. Film of riots and civil rights marches, as well as beautiful footage of the Games themselves, adds considerably to the reminiscences of Smith, Carlos and Norman, who emerge as gentle, good-natured men who are passionate about racial equality.

By centring on the white man in the photo, the puts us right into the story, forcing us to think about what we might have done in the same situation: stood up against violence and bigotry or distanced ourselves from the ones causing a fuss? Norman emerges as a warm, witty man who simply couldn't understand why anyone would discriminate based on skin colour. And in his attitudes and actions, we find hope for the bigotry our societies still face 40 years later.



Salute

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 17th July 2008

Budget: $1.9M

Distributed by: Arrow Films

Production compaines: Wingman Pictures, The Actors Cafe, Instinct Entertainment, Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC), Film Victoria

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 12

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Matt Norman

Producer: Matt Norman, David Redman

Starring: as Narrator, Peter Norman as Himself, Tommie Smith as Himself, John Carlos as Himself, Payton Jordan as Himself, Larry Questad as Himself, Harry Edwards as Himself

Also starring:

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