Jan 22, 2014

Way back in the day,

When I was in college, and had a small part in a production of Twelfth Night, I remember once after a dress rehearsal that our director (and my friendface friendie), Scott S said, "As loath as I am to tell you folks that this production needs to be Louder Faster Funnier, as I look over my notes I find those three words appearing repeatedly on every page.  This production needs to be Louder Faster Funnier."

Which in a very roundabout way is how I felt about watching The Trials of Muhammad Ali last night. Certainly it should not have been Louder Faster Funnier, but I could never imagine watching a massively praised Ali documentary and be left wondering, "Should have been much longer, and needs more boxing."

It was illuminating to learn about the inside workings of the Nation of Islam in the Sixties.  And, it was great to get the story on Malcolm X's break with NOI, and his subsequent assassination.  (Ali himself said at the time that Malcolm X should of expected to be rubbed out, but vehemently denied that anyone in NOI had anything to do with it.) And, you know, I guess I had never realized the true Separatist Mission of NOI before.  Eventually Malcolm X was making inroads to be closer to MLK's methods, and had converted to being a Sunni.  Even Ali was coming around to an integrated non violent solution, a la MLK.  All that stuff was great, and the inside baseball explanation how the Supremes went from a 3-5 Ali defeat to an 8-0 thrashing was good stuff, too.

The problem is that the film ended pretty much right after the Supreme Court decision (Ali by TKO? He won on points?), and completely ignored his comeback and all the great fights of Ali's in the Seventies, and his crushing defeat in the Eighties that effectively ended his boxing career.

This documentary got a ton of great press, and I was very eagerly looking forward to it, but I know now that the true comprehensive and complete documentary of one of the Twentieth Century's greatest athletes and Civil Rights pioneers is still out there waiting to be made.

It could still happen.


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