Chasing Great full movie review - Typical kiwi reserve hampers the impact of the story
Ritchie McCaw I believe is the greatest player to have ever graced the game of rugby Union. From the moment he burst onto the rugby scene in NZ till the RWC in 2015 he dominated the game like few others.
He was lucky no doubt to be in a team that had a winning percentage unrivaled in world sport but even for the All Blacks his record was outstanding. In 148 test matches for the All blacks he only lost 15 times as well as being awarded the prestigious IRB Rugby world player of the year an unprecedented 3 times.
Chasing Great as a documentary is beautifully made and filmed. Technically it is a very impressive achievement. Unfortunately though I didn't enjoy the film as much as i thought I would. Ritchie McCaw and his family are very much atypical rural farming Pakeha (NZers of European descent) family. Stoic, laconic and noticeably unemotional in their demeanour. The typical kiwi bloke uncomplicated and emotionally reserved. These are great characteristics to have when you are playing in the fiery cauldron of Ellis Park but it makes it challenging for films to reveal the interior life of a character if they are not adept at emotional language. There were some good i/vs in the film but unfortunately they weren't Ritchie.It reminded me of his great mates Dan Carters auto biography. It described some huge events but it seemed to lacked real insight on a personal level and a resolve not to delve too deeply or reveal too much emotionally.
In comparison again NZs other rugby legend Jonah Lomu gave incredible interviews because he could speak at a deeper emotional level. Whether that's because of Jonahs personal trials or that its a Polynesian vs pakeha thing I don't know.
The film does a retrospective of Mccaws career but this is all seen in reference to MCaws last year as All Black captain as he attempts to captain the All Blacks to being the first side in history to win back to back world cups. Unfortunately the drama of this achievement is undermined somewhat by the lack of access the film makers seemingly had to the All Black environment. As a fan it would of been interesting to see how McCaw operated in that environment but there were little or no sequences with his teams mates or within the rugby environment itself .This would of been invaluable in creating a more rounded view of the man as we had to rely on interviews from himself and others to gain any insight. I
suspect this may of had to do with the film makers intention to not make a film for rugby diehards but for a broader audience. The Rugby Unions consents for access may of also played a significant part.
Ultimately though this meant that it didn't have enough sophisticated rugby narrative for myself as a rugby fan and at the same time due to the emotional reserve of its main character it also lacked a deeper psychological insight that would of appealed to the wider documentary fan.