When We Were Kings

From Academic Kids

When We Were Kings is a documentary film, released in 1996, by Leon Gast about the The Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman held in 1974 in Zaire. It is highly regarded as perhaps the best documentary ever made about Ali. Ali is shown as the heavy underdog in the fight. He however is undeterred, telling anyone and everyone that he will knock Foreman out. Foreman is shown as the thunderous punching Champion, who before the fight is seen as unbeatable.

The film also shows scenes with Don King who promoted the fight (his first big promotion), and singers James Brown and BB King who performed in Zaire. This is the only film containing footage of the "black Woodstock" soul music festival accompanying the fight. It also shows the dark side of the fight, being that it was funded and took place in the brutal dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko.

The film shows the fight itself, Ali going into his Rope-A-Dope and tiring Foreman. Critics of the film say the fight is not correctly depicted. In the film Ali is shown as being beaten on by Foreman until Ali finally manages to come from behind and knock Foreman out. But Critics say that Ali dominated the fight, controlling and dominating Foreman. The film describes Ali's repeated use of the "leading right" in the early rounds. The most insulting of punches because of the long distance the right hand has to travel, it infuriated Foreman to the point of rage and is perhaps the best of example of Ali's strategic brilliance. Either way, we see Ali taking heavy blows but overcoming and hitting Foreman with his own lightning quick punches. Ali then knocks out Foreman, regaining the Heavyweight Championship taken from him for his refusal to be drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War.

Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Spike Lee and Thomas Hauser give interviews for the film. The film itself contains these interviews, with many clips and photo's.

This is perhaps the best documentary ever made about Ali, showing him in his glory as the fast talking, entertaining and slick but fierce boxer that he was. It also shows him talking about his dreams for African Americans to come out of poverty and crime. It also shows how much he loved, and how much he was loved, by the people of Zaire.

The film won the Academy Award for best Documentary Feature. At the presentation, both Ali and Foreman came up to join the filmmakers to make it clear they had long since made peace since that match. Template:Movie-stub


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