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Without Limits (1998)

Cast: Billy Crudup, Billy Crudup, Donald Sutherland, more...
Director: Robert Towne, Robert Towne
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Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Drama, Sports Drama, Biopics, Sports, Sports Drama
Running Time: 118 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, French
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One of two filmed biographies of late track star Steve Prefontaine to be produced in the late '90s, Without Limits comes from director Robert Towne, who previously took a stab at the track-star drama with his directorial debut, 1982's Personal Best. Billy Crudup stars as the ill-fated athlete who overcame physical obstacles to win an NCAA championship and compete in the 1972 Munich Olympics. The film follows Prefontaine from his youth in Oregon where, despite one leg being longer than the other, he shows himself to be a talented runner. Later, while attending the University of Oregon, Prefontaine meets and forms a strong bond with his coach, Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland), the man who would later go on to found the Nike shoe corporation. College is also where Prefontaine falls for classmate Mary Marckx (Monica Potter), beginning a romance that lasts until his untimely death in a 1974 automobile accident. The other film about Steve Prefontaine was 1997's Prefontaine which starred Jared Leto in the titular role. ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

if you want the experience without the pain... by winky August 9, 2002 - 11:43 PM PDT
8 out of 8 members found this review helpful
excuse the digression but, as a long-time runner, this film is one of my personal favorites.

the first race i ran was against a horse. i was visiting my aunt in oregon when she noticed that the gate that separated the pasture from open fields and the highway had been left open. the horse noticed too and began a quick trot towards freedom, so my aunt yelled for someone to close the gate. i took off. as i moved closer to the gate, the horse seemed to pick up pace until we were both running full speed on a collision course. i only remember moving faster than i ever had in my life and feeling that this race to the gate was a matter of life and death -- and i wasn't going to lose. in the end, i managed to beat him to the point and swing the long gate shut just in time. i remember the horse charging towards me only to stop in a cloud of dust just inches away. he looked down at me through the hair from his mane and i could see that he looked scared. it was only then that i realized how terrified i was and how incredible our race had been. there at the gate, staring at the horse who had underestimated his 6 year old challenger, i first tasted running's toxic cocktail of pain and fear that yields a euphoric high at the finish.

images of babes with bouncing breasts and men with thundering pecs that grace the covers of today's running magazines are foreign to me. the runners i know are an odd lot, whose chests are usually slightly concave, their legs a little spindly, and their asses tiny and flat. they take a perverse delight in pushing their psychological and physical limits, willfully waking every morning to subject their bodies to the slow process of asphyxiation that is running.

i recall a run with a friend who, by the age of 17, was flirting with the elite status of becoming a world class runner by clocking a 1:48 1/2 mile for 3 consecutive weeks. we were taking a training run in the east bay hills along a rolling dirt path under a canopy of redwoods. with about a mile left, i decided to test his mettle and pick up the pace. for the next half mile i darted ahead in spurts to put distance between us, but he answered every challenge effortlessly. he then pulled up so close i could feel the powerful, steady blow from his nostrils on my neck, and he purposefully grazed my ribs as he pumped his arms. he was letting me know that i was ahead but not in charge. and then he kicked. in what seemed like 3 strides he put 10 yards between us. it happened in a snap, and i dug deep just to pull even again. but my wobbly stride and shallow breathing were met by his measured breaths, loose jaw, and a fresh musical cadence in stride. with a 1/4 mile left he broke into a silent sprint that i could only watch as his feet skimmed off the soft red dirt.

lumbering towards the finish, i thought i would vomit. my friend just laughed and said that you had to love that feeling to be a runner. and when i saw a grimace through his smile, i knew that he was hurting, that i had made him hurt, and that made the run good.

without limits captures the maniacal beauty of the runner better than any film i've seen. billy crudup has a haunting resemblance to prefontaine and manages to pull off a character that you initially hate but come to admire, while sutherland walks the fine line of the distant, hard, loving coach perfectly. my only regret is that, as great as it is, the re-enactment of the 5,000M finals of the munich olympics could not possibly live up to the actual race.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.67)
15 Votes
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