Sport and film have historically been key components of national cultures and societies. This is the first collection dedicated to examining the intersection of these popular cultural forces within specific national contexts.

Covering films of all types, from Hollywood blockbusters to regional documentaries and newsreels, the book considers how filmic depictions of sport have configured and informed distinctive national cultures, societies and identities. Featuring case studies from 11 national contexts across 6 continents – including North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania – it reveals the common and contrasting approaches that have emerged within sport cinema in differing national contexts.

This is fascinating and important reading for all students and researchers working in film, media, cultural studies or sport, and for broader enthusiasts of both sport and film.

chapter |17 pages

Sport, film and national culture

An introduction

part I|58 pages

Sport, cinema and national culture in the USA

chapter Chapter 1|11 pages

Adapting an ‘American’ football biopic

Knute Rockne: All American

chapter Chapter 2|16 pages

Esther Williams, Americanness, the aquacade and sex

‘A swirl of red, white and blue flags and chesty swimmers with their chins up’

chapter Chapter 3|16 pages

Multicultural American heroes

Reading Obama-era biopics of Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens through the lens of American civil religion

chapter Chapter 4|13 pages

Sports film and the reimagining of American popular culture

Billie Jean and Tonya

part II|98 pages

The European experience

chapter Chapter 5|15 pages

Sports films and ‘banal’ nationalism in interwar Belgium

Flandria Film, mythomoteurs and the cult of the ‘Flandriens’

chapter Chapter 6|18 pages

Sport and national culture in Swedish film

chapter Chapter 7|14 pages

Soccer, film and the Third Reich

Hunters, cowards and glory

chapter Chapter 8|18 pages

Primo Carnera, propaganda and Mussolini’s international legitimisation

The boxer who was a passport for fascism

chapter Chapter 9|17 pages

Football, cinema and Spanish nationalism

Decoding the Francoist film Campeones (1943)

chapter Chapter 10|14 pages

Cricket, film and British national identity

On a sticky wicket?

part III|62 pages

Beyond Hollywood and Europe

chapter Chapter 11|18 pages

Netball and national identity in Aotearoa New Zealand cinema newsreels 1930–1959

‘There’s a new life in the sporting world’

chapter Chapter 12|11 pages

Football, national culture and politics in Brazil in 1970

O ano em que meus pais saíram de férias (The Year My Parents Went on Vacation)

chapter Chapter 13|18 pages

Contesting visions of Ethiopia in two Amharic sports films

Between film festivals and local commercial cinema

chapter Chapter 14|13 pages

Reconstructing Taiwanese national identity in the sports film

Small nation, sports and cultural heterogeneity