God I love films and TV shows about sport. Here’s a review of the first of an exciting trilogy of dystopian fantasy films, called ‘The Olympics’:
From the lotus-leafed valleys of the East they came. And from the canyons and frontiers of the West, they came too. And from the boiling plains of the South they also came. All four winds brought them here – the spear-lords, the Fosbury floppers, the velocipede operators, the swinging folk – all came to the ancient burgh of Londinium to do battle.
Ultimately only one man, or woman, would be left amid a field of underachieving cadavers. Some would die of dehydration. Some would perish between the pincers of the long-jump sandpit scorpions. Most would be executed by the Metropolitan Police, on suspicion of possessing firearms. Or for not doing their best. Or for sport.
The hero of The Olympics is a handsome peasant girl by the name of Catnip Humblepudding. Young Catnip has only one dream (‘money for old rope’ said Dr Fritz Jungun, the child psychoanalyst, as he took his fee from Catnip’s mother and browsed EBay for some vintage double-braid). Yes, young Catnip Humblepudding has only one dream. And that is to be worthy of the flag that adorns biscuit wrappers, tubs of butter, certain brands of male grooming product, the rotting bunting that hangs menacingly outside council estate pubs and bottles of Fairy Liquid. Yes, the Union Jack. That symbol of resilience. That image of a proud people.
That flag, that can also be found on tins of baked beans, cartons of minced cow, birth control items, the swimming trunks of the obese, in the small white claws of classical music fans, on the upper arms of people who live in prison, in the fading memory banks of Tim Henman, on cans of lager, hairspray bottles, pencil cases, cigarette lighters, wet towels, dry towels and the stiffened towels that holiday makers forget to take home from Spanish holiday resorts. Yes, that flag, which forgives all sins, accepts all colours, creeds and persuasions, and which stands between the good people of Britain and the horror of everywhere else. That majestic flag, in which will come considerately giftwrapped the collateral damage of tomorrow.
Yes, young Catnip Humblepudding has only one dream, and that is to be worthy of the Union Jack.
While Catnip goes about her athletic business, the camera pans outward to take in the audience. From a gilt–edged spectator’s box, the doughty emperor of Londinium looks down upon the games with a piercing stare reminiscent of Big Brother. Not the iron-moustached tyrant of George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four, it should be added. Rather, your actual big brother circa his 15th birthday. Your fifteen-year old brother: the big-boned pustuloid who named his goldfish ‘Madame Speaker’ and claimed that girls were frivolous, while sweatily gripping Aunt Penelope’s copy of Frumpy Diversions and tugging agitatedly at his velcro fly (after the last entanglement, Mother wouldn’t allow a metal zipper within five metres of Boris’s johnson) in a manner that suggested otherwise. Emperor Boris looks down upon the carnage like a fat unlovely boy and sees that it is good.
In the course of The Olympics, Catnip finds herself assailed on all sides by the meaty boys and girls from other, hostile nation states. While performing the decathlon, she hides in a tree. Thankfully, some respite comes when her attackers are eaten by angry metal bees, which emerge from beneath the hurdles humming and ringing like apine mobile phones. “There is a call for you on line 1” the bees almost seem to say, “And it’s Death!”
At the end of the film, Catnip has triumphed over all of the opposition and stands triumphantly, brandishing her medal in the sunlight. But wait! None of it was real! It was all a simulation. Or a dream. That’s it! A wild feverish dream in the brain of an over-worked junior advertising executive. ‘Heck!’ he exclaims as he leaps from his bed, ‘how are we going to sell certain brands of male grooming product now!’
In conclusion, this film celebrates all that is great about being British: to wit, state-sanctioned murder, biscuits and dreams with no basis in reality. I love it. 10 out of 10.