Rarely has the ability of a documentary to utterly makeover one’s appreciation of a historical event been so superbly harnessed than in Matt Norman’s extraordinary film about the “black power” salute given at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City – and of the remarkable Australian involved who had been scrupulously sidelined by his own country’s history.
On the winners’ dais after the men’s 200-metre final two Americans, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, defied protocol by raising their fists as a signal to the world about the racial tensions ripping through the heart of the US. The image became an iconic gesture of defiance and pride.
The third man on the podium was silver medalist Peter Norman, the director’s uncle. Though he did not feel it was his right to salute, Norman was deeply involved in what occurred. He, too, was troubled by race relations back home, had become friends with his competitors and wore a badge in support of their cause.
For that Norman would be punished for the rest of his life. Australian officials diligently set about ensuring that he be blackballed from anything that brought him recognition, whatever the cost to the country. For despite representing a strong chance to take out his event at the 1972 Olympics in Munich Norman was denied a spot.
The campaign against Norman even carried through to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, to which he received no invitation from the Australian organisers. Given the racial motive behind the salute this alarming fact adds a distinctly bitter twist to the story, with the film’s archival images of Cathy Freeman proudly holding aloft the Olympic torch now laced with irony.
From the outset Matt Norman’s aim is clear. He wisely presumes nothing on behalf of the audience and so methodically scratch builds the interweaving strands of the entire story – from the event itself, to the socio-political context, to the racial conflicts in the US and Australia, and the protracted aftermath.
It’s here the film’s emotional power upshifts. The director clearly wants to enrage us, and by that measure Salute is an unqualified success. In detailing the campaign against Peter Norman, the film serves up a sound backhander to the Australian character by exposing the ugly flipside to our beloved “fair go” image.
Chief among the film’s implicit themes is that the “larrikin” image so popular in Aussie folklore is something of a fraud. Rather, the film seems to declare that such behaviour will exact huge price as it runs counter to our actual instinct, which is to conform. The official hostility against Norman suggests that Australia is a nation not of larrikins, but of middle managers and bureaucrats who resent any act of defiance, however noble it may be.
And the film makes no bones about contrasting Australia’s shunning of Norman with the way he has long been embraced by the Americans. Smith and Carlos were also deeply hurt by the aftermath of the protest, but recognition and official acknowledgement of their place in history did eventually come. And they happily included Norman in their tributes.
Easily the most sobering note in the film is that while Norman was snubbed by Australian authorities at the Sydney 2000 Olympics he was part of the event thanks to the Americans, who invited him once they heard how his own country was trying to ignore him.
Say what you like about Americans, Salute shows how, in this case at least, their capacity for appreciating a person’s honour can far outstrip our own. It’s a point made subtlety, but it makes it no less embarrassing.
Salute is also a timely reminder that, whatever the shortcomings of our feature films are, Australian filmmakers have a world-class knack for documentaries. This goes back to 1942, when Damien Parer’s 9-minute Kokoda Front Line! won Australia’s first Oscar and we’ve had a recent spate of Oscar-calibre docos such as Forbidden Lies, Taxi to the Dark Side and Bruce Petty’s Global Haywire.
The fact that Salute needed to be made at all is a measure of just how successful the campaign to scrub Peter Norman’s name from the collective memory has been.
The film corrects that. The director wisely designed his film for those who have no idea who he is by shedding light on an important national story that should never have been shrouded from view.
Moving, funny, frustrating and ultimately uplifting, Salute not only restores Peter Norman’s place in our history, it gives him back to us. It’s a film worthy not only of our praise, but of our thanks.
Is this news to you? Have you heard of Peter Norman before? If so, what did you know? Do you plan to see the film? If so, why? And if you have, what did you think?
Your valued thoughts are hereby sought.
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
Wow, best film I have seen at a cinema. The art of a good film is perfection, the art of a great film is story telling. Matt Norman is a unique story teller who has given us as Aussie’s the chance to get to know won of our best. I’ve seen this and am seeing it again with friends. Perfect, amazing, wow factor 5/5, tear factor 6/5. I cried at the end which is something I have never done.
Schembri note: This review is better than mine.
- Posted by: Jason Grady on July 16, 2008 11:50 PM
I only found about Peter Norman several weeks ago while looking through an American Photojournalism book and quickly Googled as much information as I could on him, as a young person I was disgusted by Australia’s treatment of him.
I’m glad to hear Matt Norman has produced a quality film and I can’t wait to see it, the opportunity to see a true Hero’s story (none of this Superhero rubbish) on the big screen is something no one should miss.
Schembri note: You no doubt represent many people’s reaction. Would love your review.
- Posted by: James on July 17, 2008 12:48 AM
I have also heard it was Peter Norman’s idea for them to wear one glove each as they didn’t bring enough gloves for both of them. The two atheletes also attended Mr Norman’s funeral only a couple of years ago.
Schembri note: That’s true. If you see the film, please lt us know what you think.
- Posted by: Tim on July 17, 2008 8:37 AM
I have heard of Peter Norman only in passing that the guy on the podium was an Australian. but I never knew he was treated so badly.
As I’m overseas I probably won’t get to see this. How balanced is it? Do we get any interviews or comments from Australian olympic officals who were around at the time?
It reminds me of when Ian Chappell and other test players were trying to get fair pay. The Don and other board members just thought they should play cricket and shut up. Bill Lary lost the captaincy and was forced out of the side for his stance.
Just seems that back in the 60s and 70s there was no room for going against the system. I think better journalism and public interest has changed this.
Schembri note: The fact that the director is Peter Norman’s nephew is something you need to be told. That’s how well directed it is. The film will inevitably come out on DVD so don’t fret if you don’t catch it during its theatrical run.
- Posted by: dos on July 17, 2008 11:10 AM
No, I had not heard of Norman and I don’t think the Americans are household names here in Aus. While these guys are (not much) older than me but I don’t think this Black Power thing engaged me in 1968; too busy studying at Uni. But you have written a very good article, as well as a review. It’s not a film I would go to see or hire on DVD. I might watch it if I saw it channel surfing. How and when did Norman die?
Schembri note: He died shortly after seeing a rough cut of the film, so he had some idea of the final product. It’s just a pity he couldn’t be around to experience the reappreciation of his life.
- Posted by: Rexx on July 17, 2008 2:06 PM
Ok so I went and saw Salute today.
Overall I was very impressed with the film, Norman’s interview subjects are charismatic and well chosen and the mix of purpose-shot interview footage along with archival interview and Olympic footage really powerfully conveys Peter Norman’s story.
It was a little disappointing that there was an absence of Olympic official representation, although both Australian and American coaches appear, and means the Salute can come off as perhaps a little one-sided although frankly neither Norman owes them any favours.
Also I quite liked the films Lo-fi aesthetic, very grass roots.
Schembri note: Terrific review – and you make a very fair point. But perhaps the Olympic officials can now put together their own right-of-reply documentary – “Why We Don’t Want You To Remember Peter Norman”. Let’s see how that flies with the funding bodies!
- Posted by: James on July 18, 2008 12:52 AM
Yes, I had heard of Peter Norman – although I had heard of him previously, in a most remarkable co-incidence I watched a programme on BBC4 (I live in London now) just last week called Black Power Salute:
It was fascinating. My only sadness is that he is missing from the statue erected at San Jose State University. Even sadder to note that his own – my own – country had tried to erase him from our memories. Glad the first step in redressing the balance has been made.
Shouldn’t we have our own statue to commemorate him now that reconcilliation is no longer a dirty word?
Schembri note: But Norman made a principled stand for something in which he deeply believed – and Australian officials don’t like people who break the rules.
Thank you so much for the quality link. And we extend a warm greeting to another CineTopian living in Britain. If Salute surfaces in the UK please let us know – especially if you see it. Your review would be most welcome.
- Posted by: Debra White on July 18, 2008 1:37 AM
I live in the UK and heard a wonderful radio documentary about this on BBC Radio 4 a couple of years ago.
Fascinating and sad story ~ though the doc didn’t dwell on the subsequent rejection of Norman by Australia, it was implied.
I’d love to see this film. I’ve long thought the larrikin Aussie was nothing but a myth that deluded “mates” bring each other off with on weekends between weeks of conformist drudgery.
Schembri note: The contradictory nature of our national character is brutally illustrated each time there’s a war. It’s great hearing from one of our readers in the UK. If the film surfaces there please keep us informed.
- Posted by: Schulz on July 18, 2008 2:19 AM
I had heard of Peter Norman before. I have a CD that features that photo on the cover. I looked up details on it once and found, to my surprise, that the third person in there is actually Australian.
The fact that there is an Australian in one of last century’s most iconic photos and you never hear about it struck me as really odd. Especially in a country that’s as sports obsessed and hampering for any sort of international recognition as Australia is.
I’ve heard quite mixed reviews about the documentary though, mostly in the “great story, badly told” vein.
Schembri note: Only after my review came out did I begin to hear that other critics had poured scorn on the film, that Matt Norman was too close to the subject and so forth.
This leaves me agog. You have to be told that the director is related to Norman, that’s how good a job he’s done in detailing the story.
Should you see the film – and here’s hoping you do – we’d love your verdict.
- Posted by: pto on July 18, 2008 8:28 AM
I’ve never heard of Peter Norman, although I’m sure I recall seeing a photo similar to the one displayed here without understanding the significance of it. I look forward to seeing the film; it won’t be the first thing that’s made me question the so-called “Australian values” we claim to hold so dear.
Schembri note: You are precisely the type of viewer the film is designed for. Please let us know if it does its job. The fact that the Americans respect Norman well enough to name a day after him while Australian officialdom tries ignoring him reflects very badly on us.
- Posted by: Stace on July 18, 2008 8:31 AM
Yeh, I was aware of the role that Norman had played for the last 10 years I think…look forward to seeing the doco…you are right, we are a pack of sheep here and anyone whom questions is alienated and criticised….the ugly Aussie is alve and well….cheers rod
Schembri note: Please let us know what you think of Salute once you’ve checked it out.
- Posted by: rod simpson on July 18, 2008 8:35 AM
To Athletics Australia,
Why was Norman shunned in the 2000 Olympics by his own country?
The silence is deafening.
- Posted by: Ian Jones on July 18, 2008 8:39 AM
- Posted by: Stace on July 18, 2008 9:16 AM
I can remember the incident in the 1968 Games, though I did not know of the extent of Peter Norman’s involvement, nor of his subsequent treatment by Australian officialdom.
Any person who stands up for a cause which challenges the conventional thinking is to be admired. Often they are ridiculed, ignored or ostracized.
Thankfully, in this situation, the truth is finally revealed.
Any chance of a “sorry”?
Schembri note: They’ll probably issue one in 200 years. Meantime, if you see Salute please let us know what you think.
- Posted by: Liz Amos on July 18, 2008 12:24 PM
Hello fellow reviewers. I saw this film in Melbourne yesterday and wanted to put my bit in.
I got home still shaken by the fact that we didn’t know Peter. I’ve also read a few things and heard some interviews that Matt Norman the director and nephew of Peter has also not been given respect in the making of this film.
Did you know that no-one wanted to fund this film because our funding body didn’t think his story was good enough? (SSN: Yes, we did. Amazing – in a bad way.
I heard that Matt had finished the film on his own money and ended up losing his home to honour his uncle and then the funding body in this country and who ever the fellow is that came on board put their hand out to make money on this already made film.
Now that we can’t thank Peter for standing up to our tall poppy we should turn to face Matt Norman who not only proved that he has the same nature as Peter Norman but has also shown that he’s willing to sacrifice his own life financially and mentally to honor that uncle.
For a film maker to lose their house making a film (I saw too that he has 4 young children) to only then have others make the money from this film is something we should all be ashamed of.
One of my workmates saw a Q&A with Matt Norman and told me that I must go see the film. In the Q&A Matt explained that it was hard to make especially after Peter had died. Knowing that everyone just wanted to make money from his uncle’s memory was truly upsetting.
I’ve done some searching on the net and see that there are a few names that were involved in this film. I wonder when they got involved?
I just wanted to share my opinion and sorrow for the Norman family for losing someone so terrific. I heard an interview with Matt Norman the other day on the radio where he was asked “What was Peter like to you?”. Matt says “When my wife and I couldn’t afford food for our kids because we’d put everything into this film Peter would call us up and tell us to come down so that he could feed us and the children, he would then pull every single thing out of his fridge and freezer and pack it into our car”. That’s who Peter Norman was to me!”
Matt Norman has my support. I sent him a letter this morning in the post with a piece of paper that reads “my place has a big fridge, you are welcome to sit at my table with your wife and children anytime”. I would love for him to take me up on that offer. He must have some incredible stories to tell in making this amazing film.
Schembri note: A vivid demonstration here of how powerfully moved one person was from seeing Salute.
- Posted by: Mike Hasthorpe on July 18, 2008 1:11 PM
Special Schembri Note: Here’s one of the most passionate responses to Salute yet.
Saw the film last night. There is a lot of hype going on about this film, 4 1/2 stars seem to be the norm on this so I thought I would give my own review.
4 1/2 stars is not generous enough. Top marks on this film 5/5. Like so many of you who have commented it seems that this film hits a raw nerve in those of us that have taken the time to go watch a film like this in Australia.
Amazing story and made by Peter Norman’s nephew Matt Norman makes the whole experience even more incredible. I believe that even though Matt is related to the main character, I think the way he’s given life to all three men on the winners podium is a true testament to his ability as a film maker.
I was also appalled by The Movie Show with Margaret and David the other night when they really sunk the boot into this film with a kind of sarcasm only fit for a dog.
Apparently in a documentary film you need to have Hollywood style shots (even though you don’t have a budget) and have perfect opportunities (even though you don’t have a budget) and you should make sure that all archival footage from 40 years ago is clean and perfect.
I am worried for film in this country when I see a film like Salute. Why has it taken so long for Australian film to finally show this much passion and political power in a film so simple and so emotional? I’m talking about the film maker because he’s still around.
Unfortunately Peter Norman isn’t so for my money I want to show my support for the filmmaker for being brave enough and passionate enough to teach true Australian’s about Peter Norman. I’ll never look at that image again without thinking of Peter Norman and his gorgeous eyes looking at the audience in Matt Norman’s “Salute”. 5 Stars for me.
Good on you Matt.
Quickly before signing off I want to also suggest that Matt takes his next film 1968, which is the drama version of this film, out of this country. I heard about the problems you’ve been having with this film and it sounds like you’ve already captured the very essence of this country’s tall poppy issues.
All Australians should go and see this film. One word “Perfect”.
Schembri note: The only thing that needs to be added to this superb appraisal is that the review on At the Movies panning Salute keeps coming up. “Are they serious?” people keep asking. I do not watch the show as a habit, so am unable to comment beyond saying that the same show praised Esther Blueburger.
- Posted by: Katie Patterson on July 19, 2008 11:29 AM
Awesome! Wow! Incredible!
Whoever thought that an Australian film could have such a response as this. Schembri, you have shown a true ability to be well placed to comment on films now in my opinion. You chose to say it how it is instead of look for the little things that most critics look for to put something down.
I know that some of the footage seems home-movie style and I loved it. It gave me a sense of how hard this film must have been to make. I thank you Schembri for actually bringing this one out from the cold.
I agree with nearly everything that Katie suggested that we should all consider looking at the Australian bar on this one.
I think it’s taken film in this country to a whole new level. I cried when I saw it today – it was a great day to see it actually. Nice and cold. I had a lady next to me who was a complete stranger who said to me “and the movie critics on that show bagged this film and the filmmaker”!
I didn’t know that but obviously with the responses I’m reading they must have. The lady went on to say what a shame this film isn’t in America yet”.
I agree, why is this film here only, this is the most important time for a film like this to be all over the World. I wonder why Paramount pictures hasn’t taken this for Worldwide sales. What a remarkable achievement!
Thank you Matt Norman. A film like this can only have a standing ovation. You have deserved that from the Sydney film festival. I wondered what all the fuss was about but after seeing this Aus Gem I now know.
Every school in this country needs to offer this to every student to buy and take home for their collection. Put it between Spiderman, Batman, Saw and some of the other rubbish that keeps breaking our children down into hero-driven monsters.
A story about a real man by a real man who obviously have both paid the price in this event of getting it to the Australian public should be recognized.
Mr Schembri, can you please put up a link or something that gives some of the Salute viewers who are here the opportunity to vote for this film in any Australian competitions? Do you know of any that we could show our support?
A few posts ago someone said that they’d love to have dinner with this filmmaker for the amount of stories he’d have. Girls, if you’ve seen Matt you’d probably want dinner with him to. Same eyes as his uncle Peter. Gorgeous. Look him up online.
Schembri note: The film is slated for a release in America, where they knew who Peter Norman was before this film.
Any member of the public can join the AFI and vote for the film at the annual AFI awards.
Finally, all a critic can do is bring good film to the attention of his readers. From then on it’s up to the film and the skill of the director. I’m happy to take credit for encouraging people who might not otherwise have done so to see Salute – but all I did was see it and recommend it.
Matt Norman has clearly touched a nerve with you and many other people, Jennifer, and the more success Salute enjoys, the bigger the embarrassment to all the funding bodies who told him his story wasn’t worth putting our money into.
- Posted by: Jennifer on July 19, 2008 8:07 PM
Saw ‘Salute’ last night. I also was familiar with the image but unaware the silver medalist was Australian.
I can’t believe how Peter Norman’s achievements both on and off the track have been erased from our sporting history! I felt sick at the point in the movie where it was revealed that he was not included at all in the 2000 Olympics (as we watched the moment where Cathy Freeman lit the flame). Unbelievable. Still feel very angry about it.
A great documentary. I agree that you would not know that the film maker was related to the subject until you were told.
- Posted by: m.bolger on July 20, 2008 10:22 AM
Why is it that this seems to be the one place that everyone is going to talk about this film?
I think we all owe it to Matt Norman and Peter Norman to make sure every Australian goes to see this film. Let’s show the Australian film industry why we should support films like this when I read (sorry in another paper) that only when Peter died did people put their hand up from our federal and state funding bodies cause they saw it as a way of making money!
Jim, what could your paper do to help start an Australian campaign to help have all Australians go see this film at the movies? From the look of The Age being the only paper to really show full support thus in a way like you have, I would love to see the Age do a bigger story on Matt Norman the filmmaker so that we can hear more about him and the making of this film?
Saw the film last night in a packed audience and found this film devastatingly brilliant. I saw the Age today gave it another 4 stars! Well done. Support the filmmaker seeing as though we can’t support Peter anymore.
Reading up a little more I found the work that Matt is doing now on helping push the message on a FREE TIBET. The apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Great film for a great Aussie bloke. Well done Matt. Everyone go see it.
Schembri note: The best we can do is tell people about the film and hope it encourages them to see it. That you saw it in a packed cinema is certainly encouraging. We look forwad to the box-office report for the weekend to see how it fares. Very glad you were so powerfully moved.
- Posted by: Cynthia on July 20, 2008 1:20 PM
What an experience. It’s like going to a best friend’s funeral. I cried at the end just like everyone else. It was so beautiful to see that a nephew could make such an unbiased film about his uncle.
Peter Norman, if you’re watching over us then I congratulate you on being such a fine human being. Incredible film that everyone must go and see.
I also saw Batman on the weekend and although I really enjoyed it to see our Heath on the big screen, the fact that SALUTE is about a true hero and Batman about a screen hero is good enough for me to say that Salute wins the battle of the weekend boxoffice on this one.
I wish there was a lot more people at the screening I went to. About 100 which is really good for an Aussie film and really, really good for an Aussie documentary. It’s Monday morning and I have a spring in my step because I feel I haven’t lived my life as hard and as fast as some. Good on you Matt. 5/5 for me too!
- Posted by: Eric on July 21, 2008 8:52 AM
If anybody is interested in reading what was said on At the Movies about Salute here’s a link to the relevant page:
You’ll note that Matt Norman has left a comment. Not sure that he’s achieved much by leaving it (not the least because it looks like he took two seconds to compose it – badly written comments never do much for one’s cause).
Any film that challenges the notion that Australians are naturally anti-authoritarian and always stick up for the little guy is going to have merit. As for the family relationship issue, I’m sure most people couldn’t care less about that. A lot of Indigenous oral history wouldn’t be heard if it wasn’t for stories passed on from family member to family member or whatever.
Schembri note: Having not seen the show the feedback the review got prompted me to seek it out. I don’t agree, of course, but you have to accept that people are entitled to their opinions, however counter they may be. I often find myself in that position!
Re Matt Norman’s comment: I agree. He would have been better advised to either compose a more considered reply or to simply leave it to his audience to speak on behalf of the film. They are the voices that need to be heard at this point.
- Posted by: Darlene on July 21, 2008 9:26 AM
Yikes, I hadn’t finished my comment.
I wanted to ask whether you’re going to be discussing MIFF and whether you have any recommendations for films to see while it’s on.
So far, I’ve only booked to see Rock ‘n’ Roll Nerd, which is about the very talented Tim Minchin.
Schembri note: Oh, yes. MIFF opens Friday and we’ll be taking the motto “Everyone’s a Critic” out for a spin. I’ll recommend some stuff and you’ll be able to tell us what you think about anything you see. So load up on popcorn and get out there!
- Posted by: Darlene on July 21, 2008 9:28 AM
I guess it depends on how you look at things. Are the Olympics the place to make political statements?
The AOC had to get special permission for Cathy Freeman to have the Aboriginal flag in her victory lap – she could have been disqualified had they not. Plus that salute has links with the controversial Black Panther party. Smith and Carlos were accused of being members of that party (they weren’t) which I guess explains in part the reaction of people to it.
BTW Norman finished THIRD at the Aus trials and wasn’t selected. I don’t know if you can really make the statement that he was a good chance to win the event at the Olympics, but then he obviously could perform on the big stage.
The fact that three athletic careers were ruined after the gesture is such a shame. That their respective athletics federations didn’t stand behind them is unfortunately not that surprising – sporting organisations are always making ‘interesting’ decisions.
Schembri note: The issue of the supposed church/state divide between sport and politics continues to baffle. Are we being naive?
Regardless of the ideal – and how often in life does reality fall short of the ideal! – there’s always been politics at the Olympics. Munich. Berlin. Moscow. Los Angeles. And to ignore the geo-politics swirling around the fact that the 2008 Games are in China would surely be (to quote Uma from Pulp Fiction) an exercise in futility. Some may feel it is not appropriate to make statements at the Games, but the reality is that people do.
And a very warm welcome to Graph Girl, making her CineTopia debut here.
- Posted by: GG on July 21, 2008 12:53 PM
Hello, I saw the film and loved it. Great film. Great guy Peter Norman was. It would have been cool to meet him. I read the comment made on the ABC movie show webpage.?
What’s the big deal? It was for his debut film so he could have just wrote what he did to be thankful for getting on the show. I heard him on the radio too. He’s very passionate, which is obvious when you see the film.
I noticed too that he did an interview for a gay magazine.! Wow, the guys got it all! I’m a proud Gay man and I know that he’s straight (married with children) but I like the fact that he made time to discuss human rights to a gay magazine because it says that “I believe in human rights, if you love someone of the same sex and want to get married then I say better to love than not love at all”.
A straight Aussie blokes bloke saying something like that was great to hear. He went on to say “Human rights mean we are born free, if that isn’t the case then I have a problem with it”.
Great film 5 out of 5 from me.
Schembri note: Terrific review. Re the gay issue – we’re off-topic here, but gays are cool and have been a valuable and interesting part of the community for such a long time that the “gay issue” is often a non-issue. Gays are now so widely accepted into the mainstream that those who still harbour resentment are the ones out of step.
- Posted by: Johno on July 21, 2008 5:09 PM
Hello everyone, what a great way to show support for this great film and filmmaker. A few letters came in asking about how to honour Peter Norman and Matt Norman for this fantastic Australian film.
After a bit of research I found out how. The IFAWARDS are a national award program for independent film makers.
How to vote: First go to:
You will need to sign up to register but it only takes a second. Then vote for the film. I reckon if we as a group of avid film goers can vote for the film then we hold the control on getting the film out to a wider audience and help Matt get the word out to other Australian’s about his uncle.
The guy lost his house over this film and his uncle. The least I could do was vote to win him and his uncle recognition. Hope this helps. Pass on the details to everyone you know.
Schembri note: The passion shown here is admirable and is what CineTopia loves to see. However, the best way to show support for the film is to see it and encourage others to do so.
- Posted by: Jessica King on July 22, 2008 12:47 AM
I haven’t seen the film – yet.
Peter Norman was held in high regard in my household, so I’ve had a decent exposure over my years to the ins and outs of that Olympic story, amongst others.
There were some poigniant interviews during the 2000 Olympics (on ABC radio, i *think*) that clearly demonstrated the bond they shared.
I’m so glad this film has been made, made so very well (from comments), and given the respect it deserves.
Schembri note: Would love your thoughts once you’ve seen it.
- Posted by: GB on July 22, 2008 4:58 PM
Fantastic film, fantastic story, fantastic bloke Peter Norman. Was disappointed that the cinema’s aren’t packed. C’mon Australia, go see a film about one of us (for a change). Trust me, even if you have no interest about sport, this film is the must see film of the year.
5/5 as well ditto.
Schembri note: Unfortunately, this superb film is struggling at the box office.
- Posted by: TheBlog on July 23, 2008 3:44 PM
Unfortunately, this superb film is struggling at the box office.
That’s a pity – I’ll add it to the list of films I want to see next week. Unfortunately that list is not short, & I don’t think I’ll be able to get more than two in. Jim, in your professional opinion, which of the following is most likely to fall off its twig come next Thursday – The Counterfeiters, Happy-Go-Lucky, The Band’s Visit?
Schembri note: All three are good films, are not likely to last too long. I’d recommend Happy-Go-Lucky, as Counterfeiters and Band’s Visit will be on DVD soon.
- Posted by: Lulu on July 24, 2008 10:26 AM
I really want to see this film now. I am visiting Australia and was surprised by how conformist it is and have witnessed a few surprising “get in line” incidents by ordinary people, not just the state. I thought, am I missing something and have never met anyone who agrees with me on this?
So finding this was great, not to mention that the film maker is an Aussie not to mention Peter Norman’s resistance. So it is good to know that there is some dissent.
Schembri note: The film does expose the ugly, by-the-book side of the Australian character, which is far closer to the truth than many would like to admit.
But don’t let that put you off. We hope your stay in Australia is a pleasant one and we would love to know what you think of Salute. Or any other film you see!
- Posted by: Mis on July 25, 2008 9:22 AM
I have never seen so much support for a film like I’m seeing here on the blog.
So many people have been lifted by this film to a really amazing level. Why? I’m so impressed with the deep emotional pull toward recognising Peter and also his nephew Matt. Have I missed something or are Australians finally showing they care?
I wanted to thank all reviewers on this blog for really proving to me that the Tall Poppy in Australia has been taken away for applause for now by two men with a mission.
I’ve seen the film and believe it or not have to agree with everyone here. It’s the best film I’ve seen. I’ve never been so moved by watching a film.
The recipe of strength shown in this film by Peter Norman and his nephew Matt is something I aspire to become. I cried not only because Peter isn’t here to see these great comments but because Matt made a film that honored his uncle in such a way that total strangers would make the effort as I am in speaking out.
I’ve downloaded a few interviews that Matt Norman has given to different radio and TV stations. I’m amazed how similar Peter and Matt are. Peter kept pushing all the glory to Tommie Smith and John Carlos and Matt keeps pushing all the glory to Peter. This is Matt’s debut film. I have seen no evidence that he is cashing in on this as he’s always talking about Peter and what he deserves.
I really feel sorry for Matt. If you don’t know already, Matt Norman is in Time Magazine today. Most people are going to die when they find out the issues he had making this film.!
He actually lost his own home making this film and he is a father of four. He also explains that it was he that brought Tommie Smith and John Carlos over for Peter’s funeral and is still paying off the bill as Tommie would only fly business class with his wife as well.
What person would risk their own family home to make sure that their uncle is respected at their funeral. Is Matt Norman going to be our first Nobel Peace prize winner? I am completely astonished that there are people like Matt Norman living in this country. What an incredible man!
Matt Norman, I Salute you as the man of the year. You have proven that to stand up for something you believe in costs everything. Wow. I feel privileged to write to this blog knowing that hopefully Matt will see this. Thank you, thank you, thank you Matt Norman. I’d love to meet you one day.
I almost forgot, my mark on the film is a very easy 5/5. No film I’ve seen in the last few years even compares to Salute. Thank you.
Schembri note: Among the most passionate, deeply felt responses to Salute thus far. And it highlights another important quality in the Peter Norman story – his humility.
- Posted by: amazed on July 25, 2008 7:57 PM
Good one Emma, I agree with you. Best film of the year.
Those that have seen it can vouch for the feeling you get walking out of a cinema after watching this film. I loved it. 10/10 from me. Going to buy Matt’s book tomorrow called Race to Remember.
If you’re thinking about going to see Salute and think “should I or shouldn’t I” then I suggest you go and do yourself a favour. The film is a real beauty.
Congrats to Matt Norman on a great film. Also loved the music for David Hirschfelder and the voice over from Chris Kirby. The whole film was just brilliant. Thank you!
Schembri note: It’s starting to look like the only people who didn’t like Salute were the hosts of At the Movies. What are their names again?
- Posted by: Brian on July 26, 2008 7:25 PM
I wanted to make a quick comment on the film Salute that I saw last night.
The film itself was worth every cent. I had a packet of jaffa’s that was still almost full when the film finished. I held open in my lap for nearly the entire film. I’m someone that doesn’t like the Olympic games or any type of sport coverage at all, to be frank, but this film was such a rare insight into the Olympic games politics and the racial divide that I think the Olympics is still today.
I didn’t see Margaret and David’s review but this blog certainly gave me an interest in reading up.
After watching their review of this film online I was rather disappointed that these two could really find fault.
Of course the film isn’t the greatest shot film because of the archivals and DV format that was used in some interviews but that didn’t distract me at all.
The story and Matt Norman’s passion shone through completely. He took a really good approach telling all three stories rather than just concentrate on Peter his uncle. It’s a review that shouldn’t hold any relevance to the film as a hole and the only padding which I could see was for David and Margaret to fill a gap in their programming after reviewing The Dark Night! What a hypocritical bunch those two critics are.
Back to more important things like how the audience all were horrified with the facts and the story and how the audience all went on the journey.
Without doubt the most honest, educated, well-researched and beautiful stories I’ve seen from any Australian. My comparison is more like Storm Boy. The break-out film. 10/10.
Congrats Matt. Sorry about your Uncle Peter. What an amazing man.
- Posted by: Tyson Miller on July 27, 2008 3:29 PM
Your points about the oppressive, weak minded values of Australia are spot on. It’s also interesting to note that the younger Norman is a guy who is routinely ignored by the funding bodies. Those same organisations who are so quick to close ranks around their totally talentless cronies and contemporaries completely shut this guy out. The true, bureaucratic, talent punishing spirit of Australia is alive and well.
As an Aussie working in film in America I say to Matt Norman: Join me. Like your uncle, you will be appreciated here.
Schembri note: We hear this a lot. Say what you like about Americans, when they see talent they embrace it.
- Posted by: Ben on July 29, 2008 7:03 AM
It goes to show with the latest write up in the Age that the word of mouth on this amazing film is still suffering the Australian boxoffice woes.
As Australians we pretend to love our sports heroes but when it comes down to it we’d rather watch gorilla’s sleep with other people’s wives, get drunk, smash glasses over the heads of their own girlfriends than go see a movie about one of the last true male role models.
SHAME ON AUSTRALIAN AUDIENCES! I thought with the release of this film that finally we had a sporting hero to stand tall and say how Australian we really are. TO see that most Australians won’t go see a documentary shows that we’re still a bunch of wannabe Gorillas waiting to beat up our wives, drink our pubs dry and reap the millions in sponsorships for kicking a ball through a couple of posts.
For those intelligent people who want to uphold the true Australian values, go see Salute while you can. Looks like even the strongest of reviews can’t keep this brilliant film afloat.. of course unless you’d rather go watch the gorillas down at the MCG.
10/10 is my vote. Best ever Australian film.
Schembri note: A bit hard on the “gorilla factor” there. Hopefully the film will pick up more local audiences on DVD and do well in the US, where Peter Norman’s place in Australia’s sporting history is much better appreciated.
- Posted by: Sarah King on July 29, 2008 9:26 AM
Best film ever made.
I cried so much that I came out of the cinema as a mess! Well done on this film Matt Norman. You have shown great respect getting such a story to the big screen. A big thank you to Jim for making this blog available to us all.
Peter Norman is my new hero! Matt, I’m sorry you went through so much to get this film made. I’m ashamed! I hope the money I spent seeing this film shows how dedicated I am to learn a story I had no idea about.
I’m flying to Beijing in 4 days to watch the games. I’m spending a few days watching some events (especially the 200m now) and then I’m going to find a place somewhere public and my husband and I will be wearing a free Tibet t-shirt in your honor and your uncle’s.
I will do this for the entire day to show that I am one person willing to follow your stance on China and the Olympic games. Thank you so much for inspiring me. I heard you on the radio tonight and I was so moved to hear your voice speak with so much passion.
I hope the entire western world gets to see this film. Amazing! Look for me on TV wearing my Free Tibet shirt and know that you are responsible for giving me courage to stand up for what is right!
A true honor. Katherine and Craig.
Schembri note: This site was created primarily as a forum for people to comment on films and articles, so your passionate response demonstrates that it is doing its job.
Update: Salute’s US release is still in the works.
- Posted by: Katherine Hall on July 30, 2008 10:12 PM
Dear Jim and everyone,
I was told about this amazing blog by a friend who said that there are people standing up for my uncle Peter Norman. Can I just say how incredibly humble I am to have so many remarks from people who have seen the film and also who have stood up for the film under different circumstances! I am so honoured to be able to read your amazing responses and feel that I have done something I promised Peter before he died and that is that I would see him recognised for not only his record as an athlete but to see his reputation upheld.
Peter Norman was such a great person and I am saddened by the fact that he wasn’t here today to read your amazing letters. From me to you, from Peter to you can I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means so much that you have shared the experience of knowing such a small part of Peter Norman. I thank you so much for also helping get the word out about this film. As most of you know, this film cost me not only my uncle but my home. I am still finding it hard to survive but am happy to have Peter’s voice out into Australia.
Thank you also for all of you who have sent emails to me personally. I wanted to say a big thank you to The Age newspaper and especially Jim who has been so incredibly supportive of Peter Norman and my film Salute. You truly are a great journo and someone who isn’t afraid to stand up for something you believe in. Thanks Jim.
Thank you again for such a great blog and a bigger thank you to all those that have sent such amazing messages about Peter and the film. I am so impressed with the incredible response to honour Pete.
Schembri note: What makes this article worthwhile is not the review, but the heartfelt responses from people touched by your extraordinary film.
- Posted by: Matt Norman on July 31, 2008 7:47 PM
Reading Matt Norman’s message to everyone just made me feel for this guy even more. Is The Age going to follow up on this filmmaker? Can I suggest a retrospective of the filmmaker by you Jim. There’s so much we don’t know about him. I saw the film tonight in Carlton and felt so compelled to write.
10 of 10 for your film. Like others have said, the best Aus film that I’ve seen. You should be very proud.! I’m sure your late uncle would have been.
Schembri note: We have already been in contact with Matt Norman and intend to do a follow-up. Please note also, that your comments have been edited for legal reasons.
- Posted by: Melbourne Lawyer on August 2, 2008 1:15 AM
I finally saw the film. It was so fantastic to see a feel good film at the cinema. I say feel good because it made sense to be inspired by Peter Norman.
The shock of not having Peter around any more was the point I lost it. Easily a film that can be put into the classics!
This will be the last opportunity to hear this story until the drama version 1968 comes out, of course. That could be the Oscar film of films in the next few years if it has the same emotion that Matt has put into Salute.
A great, great film. 5/5 *****
Schembri note: Please read Matt Norman’s reaction to these comments. They get him.
- Posted by: Kyle Sommers on August 7, 2008 4:15 PM
This film totally pulls you into the 68 Olympics. What a beautifully told story with perfect characters involved. Seems like they don’t build athletes the way they used too.
Matt Norman – As a director I categorically say that you would have to be number one in this country in the way you’ve made this film. The hardships and loss for a man that I definitely fell in love with would have been terrible.
I’m not sure if the non-industry readers of this blog knows yet but Salute DID NOT get nominated for best film at the Australian Film awards. What kind of a practical joke is that.? 4 films were nominated, two of which I’ve seen and didn’t like as much as Salute but the important point is that one of the films selected as the BEST is a film about someone breeding chickens?
Matt, your dream came true.. you now have your uncle Peter recognized and loved by audiences all over Australia but the film industry that you’re in think that chickens are more fascinating.!!! No wonder we don’t have a film industry.
You don’t need to belittle Peter’s memory by having your own industry turn their back on you. Your audience have loved this film and loved you for making it. God Bless. Oh, almost forgot, the film that got knocked out by a film about chickens was on the cover of the WarCry, in Time Magazine, In the Washington post, the LA times, The New Yorker and the Harlem globe stating that “a new political power has been born from down under – bred from the passion and devotion to telling the real story of histories most political photographs”. His name is Matt Norman, the nephew of Olympic Great Peter Norman. Watch this space.
I can’t seem to remember now what the award show that we have here in Australia to celebrate our best artists.? Oh yes, AFI (stands for Australian Forgotten industry).
You should be proud and so should your family.
Schembri note: A typically passionate response to Salute. Re awards – The film wouldn’t have been up for last year’s AFIs but should be up this year.
- Posted by: Maria Stephenson on August 9, 2008 1:40 AM
And the 2008 Gold Medal goes too… Matt Norman for making the number one film ever made.
This film truly gives the viewer a sense of pride but also cuts deep in showing why there isn’t a great belief in our sporting history.
How many other National and International champions have the Australian Olympic authority shunned? You have captured the real time of 1968 and brought to life a mans journey through the most horrific moments in our history. I thank you for breaking down doors to make such a wonderful film. It takes courage to do something even when know one wanted to be a part. My sincerest congratulations to you Matt and I hope Peter Norman is looking down on you from the big house in the sky.
He would be very proud. I know I am! 10/10**********
Schembri note: The plaudits keep coming in for this remarkable Australian film.
- Posted by: Justine Dwyer on August 12, 2008 4:36 PM
I wanted to share with you a write up that I just read in an Australian industry mag. I think it’s a good read.
Schembri note: And here is the link:
Please note for future reference that giving CineTopia the link to a relevant article or site is the best way to go rather than sending us a C&P of the piece – which can often run to thousands of words! We really need to respect this space as being for original comments and thoughts from readers.
Thank you for alerting us to the piece.
- Posted by: Writeup on August 13, 2008 1:42 PM
Special Schembri Note: We received a press notice C&P from Matt Norman, director of Salute. This is something we do not normally do. CineTopia is designed primarily as a forum for information and discussion about film rather than as a bulletin board. We are happy to link citizens to worthwhile sites, which we have done here.
Many thanks to director Matt Norman for keeping us updated on Salute. We will continue to monitor the film’s progress as it plays internationally and we will prepare a follow-up story with him in the near future. – Jim S
Here is the link.
- Posted by: Matt Norman on September 13, 2008 11:36 AM
Special Schembri Note: A major wrap for Salute here from an American who saw it at the Rhode Island Film Festival.
Hi there Ozzies, I wanted to comment on the film Salute which I saw recently at Rhode Island film festival. The film won best documentary as audience choice award by the way.
I wanted to say that as a proud white American, this film was truly the best film I have had the pleasure of seeing from your country.
You breed some very passionate filmmakers in your country. I was with several friends who were actually Black. At the end of the film they all stood up crying and gave the black power salute. I asked them later (started by my friend Leroy) why he did it. He said “I can only stand up and show my respect for the white kid making a film to show respect for a man who we all loved”.
He went on to say “Try find an American white filmmaker who could tell a story like Salute without any bias”. SO Ozzies, we love Matt Norman as well. I thought you might like to hear that.
I sent an email to a lot of my friends with the link to this site. All my friends are amazed how generous Ozzie audiences are to one of their own. Its dissapointing to see that Matt has been treated so badly by a few others in his industry though. Worth reading his news section on the webage salutethemovie.com
Bye for now and thank you Australia for giving the World not one Norman but two!
Schembri note: It’s clear from this that the Salute wave has not yet abated. We continue to monitor the film’s progress.
- Posted by: Donna Westlake on September 18, 2008 5:43 PM
Great film. Can’t fault it. The story of Peter Norman is a gem. An unsung and unassuming bloke but man could he run!!!. World record in the heats and current Australian record holder!!- not bad. And he only looked about 5 feet 10. Freak athlete and decent bloke who didn’t think twice about doing the right thing on a big stage. A true champion and an inspiration. Thanks for making the film.
- Posted by: Glenn Chuck on March 4, 2009 3:17 PM
Been a while since this film went out. I bought a copy on DVD last week and loved it. Jim, are you going to do a follow up on this as I read that its playing overseas and getting some really positive responses.
I think the sad story to the film is that its been noted on a few interview sites that our very own funding bodies and the company that reportedly helped Matt after Peter had died have since allegedly ripped him off. I also heard that Matt and his family made nothing from this film after 6 years of making it? It’s hard to believe that another production company could do harm to this guy’s family after everything he’d gone through.
It’s great reading through all the posts about this film. It’s really moving and I finally see why so many people made such a fuss about it when it was released. My two cents, 5 stars for a really great Australian film.
Schembri note: It is a terrific film. And we are in touch with Matt Norman about doing a follow up story.
- Posted by: Joan Mitchel on March 4, 2009 3:36 PM
Hello Jim and other readers. I have only just seen this film on DVD and found it fantastic. I have just read all 45 comments written here and think its rad that so many people have written so many positive things. There is something very disturbing that I wanted to bring to your attention. It’s pretty clear that the filmmaker had a difficult time with the funding bodies and a partner that took the money and ran. I also know from listening to a radio interview which I got offline that he lost his house and is in a lot of trouble with money at the moment? I wanted to bring to everyones attention that the director Matt Norman who has had all these problems with his own industry has been selling copies of the DVD, Signed and putting all money into the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. I emailed him to buy a dvd and he told me that Paramount send him the Dvd for $14 cost price and then he sells it for $35 online (which is what stores are selling it for) and then he sends $20 of the extra to the Bushfire appeal and keeps one dollar for postage. He was a member of the CFA and NRE firefighting team a few years ago and told me that going through financial pain is hard, losing everything is harder. They need it more than me. Bloody hell.. this guy really deserves a medal. While I’m having a go at a few out there, did anyone find it suss that Salute wasn’t nominated for the Australian award shows like Ifawards and Afi? If magazine even wrote that Salute was the highest grossing doco of 2008 for an Australian doco. So why then was it not nominated for any Australian awards but it’s been winning American awards all over the place? Then I saw something that said everything, “the same people who ripped this poor bugger off making the film (funding bodies) are the major sponsors for both awards nights. One has to wonder why we get pushed to go see the edge brothers movie every single day in every single mag, newspaper but we don’t get pushed still to go see a film about a real hero. You’ve been at it a while Jim, do you think this industry is run by those people who only look after their friends? Love to hear your thoughts on this. Ive had my say. Go and rent this movie if you haven’t already as its a film that will make even the hardest blokes cry. I salute both Peter and Matt for what they’ve brought to Australia as real Aussies.! Good on ya both.
Schembri note: The insular nautre of the industry has long been a problem. The fate of The Square was sheer bad luck and bad timing, though. Salute deserves awards, but will probably get them in the US, where the event portrayed is justly hailed. As the film recounts in painful detail, in Australia they didn’t want to know.
- Posted by: Anthony Brennon on April 9, 2009 1:18 PM
Like many other Australians who have seen this amazing film. It is truly a great recognition to a man I knew nothing about and am ashamed to not know anything about. From the above messages of support it sounds to me like the younger Norman Matt had some of Peter Norman’s nature rub off on him too.
This film should be on all schools must see list. Hurry before we lose another Aussie hero over 40 years. This really needed to be more advertised. I am happy to go along with a 5/5 for an exceptional film. Jim I really liked your initial review. Spot on.!
Matt, keep making great films. We out of touch Aussies need to be informed truthfully like you’ve done. Thank you and God Bless.
Schembri note: Here’s hoping the film picks up a new audience on DVD.
- Posted by: Mitch Patterson on May 4, 2009 12:33 AM
I know its taken a long time to see this but finally it became available at my dvd store. The reason I wanted to see this film was because I heard an interview that another director did in England while I was there. The director was talking about his film “hunger” which I’ve also seen and thought it was amazing. His name is Steven McQueen. A great film maker in his own right. In his interview on BBC they asked him when was the last time you cried at a movie? His reply was “When I was in Sydney promoting Hunger I saw a film called Salute and cried all the way through it”. If Salute can make Steve McQueen cry then I really wanted to see it. I was not dissapointed.
Jim, can you tell me if this is true.. I read an article somewhere that stated that Matt the director who is going to the U.S soon to finally release the film over there has a price on his head from the Ku Klux Klan? Is this true. I find it so interesting that the nephew of a man that stood up for black rights is now being threatened 40 odd years later. Goes to show what sort of power this documentary has.
I look forward to what ever else this filmmaker does next as he actually gives me better reason to see an Australian film at our highly priced cinema’s. If he makes another film I’ll see it for sure.
Schembri note: I didn’t know of this Steve McQueen story. Thank you for passing it on. I don’t know of any KKK contract on Matt Norman’s scalp, but he is about to head off to the US for the film’s launch there. We hope it gets the audience it deserves.
- Posted by: withheld on August 2, 2009 2:58 PM
My low mood may have affected my enthusiasm about this documentary, but the power of it is not less evident.
One particular interviewee irked me, he was the white athlete that complains about knowing what “discrimination” feels like and also for thinking that the salute has overshadowed the 1963 Olymic Games.
I kind of thought that image captured all that social-political craziness in a rather eloquent way. I felt enraged by the treatment they received for merely doing something that, as their coach described, “came from the heart”. In retrospect, I felt like that athlete that irked me was saying, if they had played along like good little niggers and done nothing they would have been more successful?
I guess that’s what courage is all about and conviction in your belief. I think its admirable, because as a person I tend to shut my mouth and not say anything when my friends and family spout racial generalizations and puerile racist remarks. It makes me sad that there are some people in the world that are like this.
I refuse to believe that being Aussie is all about, ‘hanging racial s***’ on your friends. I’m constantly reminded that that is what its all about and not meant to be taken seriously (e.g. post-race bull. I think being Australian is something more like Peter was — affable, charming, good-natured, a little bit cheeky but courageous, generous and inclusive.
Thank you for reminding me that Peter through your simple willingness to stand with the Americans.
Schembri note: Glad you finally caught up with this great movie.
- Posted by: Eddie on November 27, 2009 3:28 PM
Peter Norman makes me proud, PROUD to be Australian.
Sadly our Olympic Governing Body does not
Dawn Fraser, earlier, is another example of the bureaucratic convict perpetulisation and paranoia that is still so deeply entreched in Australian political sportsmanship – an oxymoron (sic).
- Posted by: jon on February 23, 2010 1:07 AM
What an incredible outpouring of comments from readers of the age. Jim, has this happened before? So many comments about a film that came out over a year ago. I thought I would share some tid bits for you.
Just got home from Dubai last night and before I left I heard an interview by the director Matt Norman in Dubai. The film is being released across America in the coming month or two. When I landed back in Oz I had to go buy this film off the interview he did. After watching it straight away I certainly see why Matt Norman is exactly the same person as Peter Norman was. What a wonderful Australian who is out there “keeping a promise he made Peter”. I wish I had family that would do that if I ever pass away.
Anyway, read the posts and just wanted to say how proud I was after listening to an interview and then watching the film.
I also have a quick question? Why can’t I find SALUTE on any of the AFI or IFAWARDS webpages as last years winner? Is there politics at play that I don’t know about because this film is ripping it up around the World but I see nothing here in Australia? That is a real shock!!!
Another bit of news that i found out while searching this filmmaker. He is about to start shooting a feature film called “Scab girl asylum”. have a look at wingmanpictures.com for information. An Aussie filmmaker with a social conscience.. sign me up as a huge fan!
Schembri note: I wouldn’t read any conspiracies into anything. Salute is a terrific doc and – yes – we have had strong responses to items over a year old, but it is not common. It is remarkable that Salute continues to draw comment.
- Posted by: Mia on April 20, 2010 4:44 PM
Salute – a must-see film about a little-known hero,