Sunday, July 13, 2014
Breaking Away: 35th Anniversary
Today marks the 35th Anniversary of one of my very favorite films, "Breaking Away." Filmed entirely in Bloomington where I attended Indiana University, it perfectly captured the quirky small-town community that just happened to have over 40,000 students. I say "captured" because Bloomington has changed a lot in the last 35 years!
Dennis Christopher plays Dave, a high school student who struggles to figure out his future. Here he is posing in downtown Bloomington astride his bike:
Here's how the same Courthouse Square looks today:
The struggle between "Town and Gown" (community residents vs. the college students) comes to a head in an epic brawl that takes place at the University Student Union:
The Indiana Memorial Union Cafeteria today:
One of the local quarries plays a major role in the film. Limestone from this quarry was used in the Empire State Building, The Pentagon, and Washington National Cathedral, just to name a few iconic structures. Here Dave sunbathes with his high school friends, played by Dennis Quaid (diving into the quarry) and Daniel Stern.
During my college days, I used to go swimming in the very same quarry, aka Rooftop Quarry. Today, you couldn't pay me enough money to jump into this stagnant cesspool!
One of the most touching scenes in the film is between Dave and his somewhat detached father (played by Paul Dooley), who used to work in one of the quarries. They stroll through the campus near the library, discussing Dave's future after high school.
Father: You guys still go swimmin' in the quarries?
Father: So, the only thing you got to show for my 20 years of work is the holes we left behind?
He goes on, in an awkward attempt to encourage his son to be something that he never was:
I was proud of my work. And the buildings went up. When they were finished the damnedest thing happened. It was like the buildings were too good for us. Nobody told us that. It just felt uncomfortable, that's all.
The very same limestone library today:
The final bike race is breathtaking and emotionally charged; I still get excited watching it, even though I know what the result will be.
All that's left of the original stadium where the race was filmed are the corner limestone pillars:
The film's box office started out extremely slow, thanks to a trailer that does a very poor job of promoting the film.
Happy Anniversary, "Breaking Away"!
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