The Will To Fly
Lydia Lassila, Jacqui Cooper, Alisa Camplin
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To neophytes of Olympic sport, the pursuits wherein exist in a curious temporal vacuum: once every four years, the swimmers swim, the runners run, the skiers ski, and then they quickly disappear back into the stasis from which they came, to be unthawed for competition again in another four years. Naturally, the perception of the casual observer bears little relation to reality.
The Will To Fly chronicles the travails of Australian Olympic aerial skier, Lydia Lassila, from her early career to her performance at The 2014 Sochi Winter Games, where she undertook the most complex acrobatic manoeuvre ever attempted by a woman in an Olympic competition. The most remarkable thing about this Australian feature documentary is that it dispels the conceptual vacuum by chronicling the gaps that go astray for all but the people directly involved. What it reveals is the phenomenal commitment, effort, and time that go into an eventual thirty seconds or so.
While all this is logically deducible, what makes The Will To Fly instructional is the benefit of narrative context. Lassila’s story is one of amazing tenacity, self-will, and perseverance that supersedes one’s interest (or disinterest) in sport, essentially because the human achievement is all too recognisable. Lassila ruptures an anterior ligament, undergoes knee reconstruction, re-ruptures the same ligament, births two children, and keeps training to do a quad-twist-triple somersault mid-air on a ski slope. In other words, the trump card of this documentary is that it is effortlessly inspirational, boasting a highly likeable subject. The Will To Fly is aided by depicting an especially visceral sport whose performances are able to elicit a genuine sense of danger and excitement. While for sports aficionados this is a no-brainer, the apathetic may be pleasantly surprised too.