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Four Minutes

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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(Dec 06, 2005)
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(Dec 06, 2005)
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$37.33 $9.98

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Starring legendary actor Christopher Plummer (THE INSIDER, A BEAUTIFUL MIND) and Jamie Maclachlan as Sir Roger Bannister -- you and your family will cheer on this amazing account of a gifted runner's triumph! After Mount Everest was conquered in 1953, the last great individual challenge remained the four-minute mile. While many sought to break through the most famous barrier in sporting history, it was medical student and driven amateur Roger Bannister who did it -- astounding the world. Written by renowned sportswriter Frank Deford -- don't miss one second of this remarkable achievement, both on and off the track.~~ ~

Sir Roger Bannister's historic running of the sub-four-minute mile is celebrated in Four Minutes, an inspiring and respectably authentic TV movie about breaking the most famous barrier in the history of sports. Although it was primarily filmed on locations near Toronto, Canada, this classy ESPN production effectively captures the melancholy mood of post-World War II England, which desperately needed a hero to lift the country out of its post-war depression. Stubbornly resistant to training, Bannister was a devoted Oxford medical student with only passing interest in athletics, but his surprising speed set the stage for his record-setting one-mile run (officially recorded as 3:59.4) at Oxford's modest Iffley Road track on the rainy and windy afternoon of May 6, 1954. As written by renowned sportswriter Frank Deford (based on his article "Hillary and Bannister") and directed by British TV veteran Charles Beeson, this handsome-looking film makes the most of its limited budget, and newcomer Jamie Maclachlan (a dead ringer for the real Bannister circa 1954) is perfectly cast, physically convincing as a world-class runner while effortlessly conveying Bannister's intelligent, congenial charm. Deford's teleplay is dryly conventional, with perfunctory parallels to Sir Edmund Hillary's 1953 conquest of Mount Everest (another inspirational British milestone), a fictional composite role for Christopher Plummer (doing fine work as Bannister's disabled coach) and a standard love interest (nicely played by Amy Rutherford, as the future Mrs. Bannister) for a touch of trackside romance. Comparisons to Chariots of Fire are unavoidable, but Four Minutes can stand on its own, ensuring that Bannister's remarkable achievement will never be forgotten.

On the DVD
Four Minutes is accompanied by a variety of bonus features that provide a comprehensive record of Roger Bannister's historic running of the sub-four-minute mile. In addition to the standard extras (deleted scenes, outtakes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette), there's also the original 1954 newsreel footage of Bannister's record-setting run; a documentary short titled "Barrier Breakers," about the runners who challenged the four-minute barrier prior to Bannister's breakthrough; original 2005 interviews with Bannister and fellow Oxford runner Chris Chataway; an enhanced on-screen trivia option full of informative information regarding Bannister's achievement and the film's historical context; and audio commentary by Four Minutes director Charles Beeson, producer Len Raynor, and executive producer Jerry Abrams. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Original 1954 Film of Roger Bannister Breaking the 4-Minute Mile
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Four Minutes: On the Set Featurette
  • Original Interviews with Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway
  • Enhanced trivia track

Product Details

  • Actors: Jamie Maclachlan, Christopher Plummer, Shaun Smyth, Amy Rutherford, Drew Carnwath
  • Directors: Charles Beeson
  • Writers: Frank Deford
  • Producers: Bud Greenspan, Gerald W. Abrams, Lynn Raynor, Michael R. Goldstein, Nancy Beffa
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: ESPN Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,027 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Four Minutes" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As late as the 1950s, many believed that a person would die attempting to run a mile in less than four minutes. Many men tried, but the first one to succeed at shattering this mythical barrier was Roger Bannister, an Oxford University medical student. On May 6, 1954 at a wet and dreary Iffley Road track, Roger did what no man before him had done.

This terrific movie describes Roger's admission to Oxford in September, 1946 right through his world record run in 1954. As a young Freshman medical student, Roger decided to run the mile race at the Freshman games, and managed to run a sub-5:00 mile despite terrible conditions. Thus began Roger's assult on the mile and his quest to become one of the greatest milers of his generation. His times continued to fall for the next few years while he was still studying to become a doctor. But his time spent on the track was taking away from his studies.

Roger's next goal was the 1952 Summer Olympics, which were held in Helsinki, Finland. Shouldering the expectations of an entire country, Roger was entered in the 1500 meters, a distance just short of the mile. Considered the favorite to win the race, Roger struggled to a disappointing fourth place finish and no medal at all. After this humiliating defeat, Roger became obsessed with becoming the first person to break the four minute barrier.

Having never used a coach before, Roger enlisted the help of Archie Mason (Christopher Plummer). Mason was a champion half-miler before an injury ended his career. But he still had his track and field mentality, and he was regarded as one of the best in the business.
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This ESPN pproduction of the factual story of British doctor/runner Roger Bannister and his quest to become the first man to run the mile in less than four minutes is a well done film offering not only an enjoyable sports movie focusing on the world of track and field in the early 50's before commercialism and steroids became commonplace, but also provides a nostalgic glimpse into the Post-WW II psyche of Great Britain.

The company involved in the making of this film most definitely learned many valuable lessons from the British classic 'Chariots of Fire' and the similarites are abundant. However despite the profuse mirroring of this earlier Academy Award winner, 'Four Minutes' succeeds at carving out its own identity and ultimately stands or falls on its own merits.

Jamie Maclachlan is perfect for the part of the subdued but likeable Roger Bannister and Christopher Plummer does a wonderful job as his coach and mentor. Journey back to a simplier time when sport and winning was its own reward. A time when destiny and opportunity offered nothing beyond the joy of victory and but a brief moment of glory.
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Very nicely, thoughtfully produced movie bio of Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to break the elusive four-minute mile. The script is esoteric but it is the race sequences that captivate you and capture the significance of Bannister's place in the running world. (Excellent casting of the newcomer in the leading role...ably conveying Bannister's athletic prowess as well as his integrity. The larger supporting players, too, are first rate, especially love interest Amy Rutherford) Of course there are the requisite goose bumps and teary eyes at the finale.

The production design is also quite excellent (in spite of some lame CGI), especially impressive when you see the actual newsreel footage in the special features.

Those features are great additions to this wonderful telefilm, although I admit to being disappointed in the "filmmaker's audio track" because there were long pauses where they did NOT comment and the soundtrack to the film is removed so it is just complete silence. Low audio or subtitles would have been better for the long moments when the commentators seemed to drift off to watching their own movie in silent appreciation.
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Format: DVD
There were scientists who thought that when they tested the first atomic bomb it would set the atmosphere on fire and incinerate the entire planet. There were those who maintained that the sound barrier could not be broken and if you have seen "The Right Stuff" you will recall that the sound of Chuck Yeager's sonic boom was thought to be the sound of the X-1 crashing. Then there were those who thought that if a human being tried to run the distance of one mile in less than four minutes they would literally drop dead.

Most of those who watched "The Right Stuff" knew that John Glenn would survive the trouble with his Mercury capsule when returning from orbiting the earth, but they may well not have known about Chuck Yeager and also be surprised that he makes it out of the movie alive. The name Roger Bannister is known because he was the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes (and the title gives away the ending to the rest of the world). However, while his name and his achievement are well known in the sports world, the story of Roger Bannister is not.

Sportswriter Frank Deford wrote the teleplay for "Four Minutes" based on his article "Hillary and Bannister," which compared the stories of the first men to climb Mt. Everest and to break the four-minute mile. One key commonality between the two Englishmen is that each had help in their respective treks to immortality. For Hillary it was the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, while for Bannister it was Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, who set the pace for Bannister to break the barrier at Iffley Road track at Oxford on May 6, 1954. This teamwork hardly takes away from Bannister's accomplishment, because as "Four Minutes" emphasizes, he was a most unusual sportsman.
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