Wilma (1977) Shirley Jo Finney, Cicely Tyson, Jason Bernard, Joe Seneca, Denzel Washington Movie Review

Wilma (1977)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Wilma (1977)

A Winner Never Quits

As a child Wilma suffered pneumonia, scarlet fever as well as polio which left her with a weakened left leg and a need to wear a leg brace and special shoe. Despite there being limited funds and little in the way of treatment her mum would make the 50 mile bus trip with her each week to seek treatment in Nashville. With the treatment and help of her family who give her daily leg massages eventually Wilma is able to regain the strength in her leg and lose the need to wear the leg brace and orthopaedic shoe. But just gaining the strength back in her leg is not enough for Wilma who as when she eventually went to High School showed a talent for sport leading to her becoming an athlete selected as part of the U.S. Olympic team for the Olympics.

There is a good chance that if you are reading this review it might be because of one certain Denzel Washington who made his acting debut in "Wilma" a TV movie from back in 1977. But I reckon if you manage to find and watch "Wilma" the fact it features Denzel Washington will soon be the last thing on your mind as the power of Wilma Rudolph's story will soon be what grabs you.

The thing is that "Wilma" is not a complicated movie because on one level we get to watch Wilma over come her disabilities to become a sportswoman. As such we get to see the importance of her family in this who rallied around her as a child when she felt alone and included her in their activities rather than saying she couldn't do it. We then also see as Wilma grows up the influence of other people on her life to give her a fighting spirit and to rally against anyone who says she can't do something, and that includes both dealing with sexism and racism. As such whilst we get to see Wilma's life and her relationship with Robert, who she grew up with, most of the movie feels more like it is focused on the inspirational side of her story.

What this all boils down to is that "Wilma" is one of those inspiring biopics about a woman who overcame illness, sexism and racism to become a great Olympian. It is also a movie about the power of family, of love and encouragement. As to how accurate it is to the true story of Wilma Rudolph I don't know but for me the power of the movie is in it being inspirational.