Owen Gleiberman
May 21, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Endurance

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Haile Gebrselassie
director
Bud Greenspan
genre
Drama, Documentary

We gave it a F

Endurance is just what you’ll need to make it through this stultifying docudrama coproduced by Terrence Malick. The 1996 Olympic long-distance running champion Haile Gebrselassie portrays himself in a few scenes; the rest of the time, we’re subjected to static staged glimpses of his impoverished boyhood in rural Ethiopia. It’s a tale in which the characters, who speak in saintly monosyllables, are presented with such poky, ”ethnographic” simplemindedness that the movie might almost be observing a family of goats. There’s an uneasy whiff of racism in the film’s refusal to weigh down Gebrselassie’s story with anything as impure as, say, events and conversation. With its tribal-inspirational one-world music, Endurance plays like Disney’s advertisement for 21st-century capitalist colonialism. It’s bad enough that the company ate Times Square; surely, it doesn’t need to eat Ethiopia as well. F

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