Return to Filmclub: Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

February 24, 2009 at 10:08 pm Leave a comment


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner visually articulates class struggle in fascist spaces. The plot is concerned with Colin Smith, a working class everyman from Nottingham,



whose mistake is failing to run fast enough. As he puts it,

Running’s always been a big thing in our family, especially running away from the police.

Not running fast enough gets you in these spaces:


hemmed in


where you might encounter these types:

a different tower


That last is the governor, who notes Smith’s athletic ability and desires that Smith win the long-distance cup when the school for delinquents meets up with a public school for a field day.

This occasions Smith’s freedom to run about the grounds, and a lot of picturesque shots:


running at night

running back

Smith clearly wins the race, but stops short of the finish line, letting the public school boy beat him. At this moment the viewer gets a beautiful but fleeting glance at a working class victory:

giving it to the governor

By withholding his labor at a crucial moment, Smith beats the governor. But the machinations of the fascist state, its plans for boys of Smith’s class, continue unimpeded.

gas masks

What then is the loneliness of the long distance runner? The answer is compulsion, running to escape slaving my guts out so the bosses get all of the profit and finding no place to rest.


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