Saturday, June 19, 2010


A couple years ago, I reviewed and compared two Badwater movies - Running on the Sun and The Distance of Truth. Below is that review again - after that I will add my review of the latest movie - 135 Days To Badwater.

"Running on the Sun is the movie that really got me interested in doing Badwater was Running on the Sun. After watching it the first time I said "Never will I do that race." Well, I did end up doing it this year. But then the idea started growing on me and I became more and more intrigued.

Now there is a new movie out about Badwater. This is The Distance of Truth. It centers mostly on the race of Canadian ultrarunner Ferg Hawke. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. The starting scene was very powerful and kind of set the tone for the movie (Death Valley is a very hot place). At times it was a bit melodramatic, but not to the point it bothered me.

The race, like Running on the Sun, centered mostly on two runners. Here it was Ferg and ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek. However, Running on the Sun had more elements of the women's race and non-elites in it.

This movie shows Badwater as the race exists today (multiple waves, smaller crews, etc.) It does seem to really drive home the fact that people can die - but it has never happened at Badwater, so there's that bit of melodrama.

Anyway, great ultra flick. Check it out!"

I learned of another movie about Badwater called: 135 Days to Badwater. This one is unique in that instead of a movie about the official Badwater race, it is about a solo attempt. The movie centers around Seymour Rifkind's 2008 solo attempt. Rifkin attempted this run only a couple months after his first ever ultramarathon (a 50 mile finish).

The movie is quite short - less than an hour. Rifkind infuses the movie with a bit of what I will call his "new age" philosophies. It includes meditation, and reflects upon his other accomplishments and endeavors. At times, I felt it ventured into a bit of "self-promotion" by Rifkin.

The filming was mostly made up (in my opinion anyway) by splicing hand-held video camera of lower quality (not even Flip HD quality) together with photo stills. The narration bounced back and forth between a studio voice and his crew members.

I did like viewing a film about a solo attempt. It is something I want to do some day so this gave me some background. At times, like A Distance of Truth, it is too melodramatic ("shoes are melted off the feet of the runners".....I actually have never heard that actually happening). But, overall while I enjoyed the film, it was almost like trying to "research" a foreign country visit by watching a friend's vacation movies.

One personal "nitpick" I have is his attempt to compare/liken the Badwater experience to his relatives' Nazi concentration camp/march experiences. In it he seems to question "I wonder if I could have survived the Nazi death walks" and then uses his Badwater attempt to see if he could (I could be wrong, but I did read that message in the film). To me, if that was in part his message or motivation, I think it belittles the horror and reality of what the Nazi's forced upon the Jewish prisoners. Badwater is a choice, a challenge over in hours, something one can withdraw from any second, and one that is backed by plenty of food, water and crew support. I do not see any likeness nor comparison to the horrors of the holocaust. Now, unlike Rifkin, my family members did not suffer or die in the Nazi terror, so perhaps he has more right to make such comparison. But, this is what I felt when viewing those parts.

The concept was interesting, Rifkin's family history, his personal story, and his thoughts were also interesting. But overall, the other two films give a more comprehensive picture of Badwater to me. This is just my opinion - other my think it is much better than the other two flicks.

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