Lion, the Academy Award-nominated film based on the true story of a child’s accidental separation from his family in India, has been selected Running Movie of the Year by TakingMulligans, a website that explores the emotional side of running.
The movie depicts the young Saroo’s natural reliance on running, not as a sport, but as an integral part of how he lives his life. Saroo, played as a child by Sunny Pawar, doesn’t run for fitness or personal records, he runs because he is compelled to by circumstance. He runs because he can and because he has to. In running, Saroo finds deliverance not only from imminent and nefarious threats to him as a child, but also later in life, in the imagery and emotion that the activity has seared into his memory.
It is for this poignant, visceral and dramatic demonstration of the power of running to protect us physically and nurture us emotionally that has distinguished Lion as Running Movie of the Year.
Running serves the hero of the story in several pivotal ways. First, in a practical way: it is how the small child navigates the harsh realities of living in his tiny village. He runs to do his work and return safely to his home. He even finds safety in a mad dash for medical care after a startling childhood accident. Running also becomes his escape route when threatened by child kidnappers who prey upon his vulnerability.
Finally, when the boy, now grown into a man, and played by Academy Award nominee Dev Patel, seeks to reconstruct the clues to his childhood, running serves him one more time. As he relives the moments of his youth, he sees himself again through the eyes and emotions of that running child (with a little help from Google Earth). Through the imprint that running to and through his village has made in his memory, the grown-up Saroo unlocks the answers of who he is and where he comes from.
Other nominees this year included ‘Race,’ the story of Jesse Owens and his triumphant victories in the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the days leading up to World War II, and Sully, the story of pilot Chesley Sullenburger, who found running to be a source of strength and emotional refuge which contributed to (and helped him deal with the aftermath of) his daring landing of a passenger jet in the Hudson River. Sullenburger was featured in this Runners’ World article when the movie premiered.
Taking Mulligans’ Running Movie of the Year is chosen to reflect how running is more than just a sport or fitness activity, it can unlock emotions and serve as a catalyst for change and positive developments in life.