One thing I particularly love about the BFC (British Free Cinema) is how real and authentic everything looks. From the looks of the actors, to the lines, to the locations where the action takes place, everything breathes REALITY. Tony Richardson is one of the biggest exponents of the movement and along with Lindsay Anderson or Joseph Losey he helped to define the basis of the movement.
Today I am going to talk about The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, an awesome allegory to the society that was building up during the 50s and 60s and that we still live on. Today’s days of crisis may help the viewer to feel kind of close to the roles of the main characters, but that’s not the point. The film goes beyond that.
Centering around the life of a young and poor cockney that has just been sent on probation for a petty crime, Richardson tries to explain the circumstances that brought the young lad to the action itself. It was not money itself, nor the family context (though it may have helped) but that whole society starting over after WW2. This is the main concept that Richardson will take and recompose into a race between the reformatory and an elite school; that way, the director places our young cockney into a the dilema if either winning and getting this way into the society that so badly treated him or if to stay true to his class and condition.
Just like This Sporting Life or The Servant explore the brutality of the low classes towards the upward ones, The Loneliness of the Long Distance runner does that along with the sketching of a youth that has to take a role that doesn’t want to take. Not bad for a 1962 film. At the end you’ll also see a very young James Fox in the role of the main character rival.