A Review of My Book 'SPORT AND FILM' by Professor John Bale

A Review of My Book 'SPORT AND FILM' by Professor John Bale
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  This article was downloaded by: [National University of Ireland - Galway]On: 19 August 2015, At: 03:05Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: 5 Howick Place, London, SW1P 1WG Click for updates Sport in History Publication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information: Sport and Film John Bale aa  Keele UniversityPublished online: 09 Feb 2015. To cite this article:  John Bale (2015): Sport and Film, Sport in History, DOI:10.1080/17460263.2015.1008311 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, orsuitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressedin this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not theviews of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content shouldnot be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions,claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilitieswhatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connectionwith, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content.  This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expresslyforbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   N  a   t   i  o  n  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   I  r  e   l  a  n   d  -   G  a   l  w  a  y   ]  a   t   0   3  :   0   5   1   9   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   5  Book Review Seán Crosson,  Sport and Film  (London: Routledge, 2014). Pp. 182. £26.99(pb). ISBN 078-0-415-56992-7Undergraduate students opening the pages of this book may put it downquickly when the names of Norbert Elias, Louis Althusser and AntonioGramsci appear in the early pages of   Sport and Film , a book by SeánCrosson, which he has contributed to the Routledge  ‘ Frontiers of Sport ’ series. However, they will soon meet familiar figures such as Nick Hornby and David Beckham. While not explicitly addressing students andteachers of sports history, the book will be useful for scholars in numerousacademic fields. It has brought a range of topics which will become valuable for those seeking more about studies in sport in film  –  and filmin sport.The book has an American bias, understandable given the impact of Hollywood on the  ‘ movies ’ –  a phenomenon that has brought the moving body beyond the static body into the world of mobility. The book consistsof six chapters and a conclusion. It is quasi-chronological, dealing withethnicity, gender and national identity. The first two chapters deal with ‘ reading the sports film ’ , suggesting that there is no single  ‘ film ’ . There areways of seeing and Crosson provides a good coverage of   ‘ form and style infilm ’ , narrative,  ‘ mis-en-scène ’ ,  ‘ cinematography  ’ ,  ‘ sound ’ ,  ‘ editing,  ‘ filmtheory  ’ ,  ‘ genre ’  and  ‘ post-structuralism ’ . Those of us with a humanisticbent might be put off but will be pleased that this chapter includesmaterial on the emergence of the early cinema and film. The historicaldimension, though, seemed to me to be rather thin. There are someobservations on the giants of the early movies, namely Etienne-JulesMarey and Eadweard Muybridge, both of whom  ‘ engaged in variousactivities from boxing to jumping  ’  (p. 30), but Marey and Muybridge takeup only two pages, suggesting that Crosson wanted to get away fromscience, preferring to work on the cinema. Nevertheless, interesting comments on film stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and theMarx Brothers show how boxing, in particular, can illustrate the athleticform in motion. Likewise, films on football on the college campus were Sport in History,  2015    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   N  a   t   i  o  n  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   I  r  e   l  a  n   d  -   G  a   l  w  a  y   ]  a   t   0   3  :   0   5   1   9   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   5  themes that were made famous in, for example,  The Freshman  by HaroldLloyd.Chapter 3 continues the focus on sports in US cinema and illustratesthat by the 1920s attempts had been made to define a  ‘ sports film ’ . In thischapter titled  ‘ the sports film genre ’ , I suggest that Crosson comessomewhat dangerously close to  ‘ catagorizing  ’ , taking a  ‘ lists ’  or a ‘ fundamental characteristics ’  approach. Indeed, he illustrates his categoriesby   ‘ film biographies ’  such as the  Babe Ruth Story  , devoting a page of   ‘ sub-genres ’  like the British films  The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner  and  This Sporting Life . Ellis Cashmore ’ s work is used to illustrate thedocumentary sports film, inevitably exemplified by   Olympia , whilechapters 4 and 5 concentrate on race, social class, and the  ‘ AmericanDream ’  in the sports film. He contends that the sports film confirms thatthe history of the sports team has been both dominated by men and yetignored at the same time. The former has illustrated masculinity and thelatter the  femme fatale . Here Crosson ranges from Elizabeth Taylor( National Velvet  ) to Kirsten Dunst ( Bring it On ). The sixth chapter isdevoted to film in national culture and identity in sport. Again, thecoverage is considerable, and includes the classic work of Jerry Leach andGary Kildea on their work on cricket in the Trobriand Islands ( Trobriand Cricket  ) at first incongruously placed with  Chariots of Fire  but exempli-fying resistance in different ways. Here, the British reader can engage withresistance in  The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner   and  Bend it LikeBeckham . Next are two short sections on Australian and Indian sportsfilms and several allusions to German sports.Crosson ’ s work is, I believe, an ambitious path-breaking study; animpressive range of examples highlights aspects of sport and film, melding them with the recognition of the ideological base. He finishes where hestarted  –  at Gramsci and his concept of cultural hegemony. I have few criticisms about this book as I think that more could be considered onethnographic film. The Trobriand film is noted but other ethnographicstudies of film reviewing the colonial representations of sport are limited.Representing the colonized athlete was filmed as well as photographed  – not necessarily for ethnography but also for athletic technique, and I think that more attention could have been paid to the moving body in athletictraining and practice. Consider the use of film in the work of the Britishathletics coach F.A.M. Webster, who from the 1930s had seen the moviecamera in track and field athletics as an aid (or supplement) toperformance. He wrote:  ‘ equipped, one can make moving picture recordsof the action and physical skills ’  of sporting stars to one ’ s own pupils (F.A.M. Webster,  Why? The Science of Athletics  (London: Shaw, 1937), 215). 2  Book Review     D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   N  a   t   i  o  n  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   I  r  e   l  a  n   d  -   G  a   l  w  a  y   ]  a   t   0   3  :   0   5   1   9   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   5  Finally, dare I note that there is no mention of the films of Sagar Mitchelland James Kenyon  –  makers of sports films at the end of nineteenth-century Lancashire? Nevertheless, Seán Crosson can be deservedly said tohave moved the  ‘ frontiers of sport ’  and should inspire students to engagewith both sport in film and film in sport. JOHN BALE © 2015 Keele University Sport in History   3    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   N  a   t   i  o  n  a   l   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   I  r  e   l  a  n   d  -   G  a   l  w  a  y   ]  a   t   0   3  :   0   5   1   9   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   5
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