4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Strangers in a Strange Land.,
This review is from: Running The Sahara [DVD]  (DVD)
Running across the Sahara must go down as one of the great ultra running achievements in history. My own pathetic attempts at fell running wilt like a gert big wilty thing before the sort of statistics these men rack up. 4,400 miles, the equivalent to 170 marathons. There are mere mortal runners and then there are these guys. They really are born to run, and it is deep in the DNA. I am sure they needed little encouragement to get involved in this project. Ostensibly to highlight the water shortage in the Saharan regions and the need for wells, although this is hardly mentioned in the film, it seems to be more an excuse to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. We get to see some magnificent scenery especially in the desolation of the Tenere in Niger. There are some lovely Beau Geste moments with sand blowing around the runners. The exotic city of Timbouktou, and the mayhem of Cairo are both visited on this odyssey. No camera travelling this journey could fail to convey some of the grandeur of the worlds greatest desert, unless they filmed their feet.
On the down side we learn little about how the project was conceived and the logistics behind the run. We are also left in the dark about the runners and their own personal achievements. What sort of training did they do to get to their level? What races have they already competed in? The landscapes they pass through are just an attractive blur, and unlike Michael Palin's "Sahara" we do not get any in depth conversations with the locals. This makes the team appear like 'strangers in a strange land' passing through an alien landscape. They simply run and run, and then run some more. Not the stuff of great documentaries it has to be said! Matt Damon does a little narrating to add his significant Hollywood clout to the film, aside from also co producing. I was left with the feeling that the documentary did not do justice to the astounding achievement. If you really want to be inspired by running then I suggest you read the following two fine books, "Feet in the Clouds" by Richard Askwith and "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougal. Then get running!