Rising Phoenix

Rating 7.6
Streamer Netflix
Seasons 1
Episodes 1 x 100 mins

When making this film the producers probably envisioned it airing in the height of summer 2020, to an audience of Paralympics obsessed viewers, high on the buzz of the games’ competition and camaraderie. Alas, 2020 had other plans. Pandemic plans.

But despite the Tokyo games being postponed, this feature doc is sure to gear you up ready for when they eventually do happen, and have you celebrating the athletic champions that we all look forward to cheering on from the sidelines and our sofas.

This Netflix film is a celebration of Paralympic athletes, their sports and the fight to have their games be as respected and celebrated as the able-bodied counterpart. During the hour and a half, we meet various sporting heroes – among them Italian fencer, Bebe Vio, swimmer Ellie Cole, and Chinese powerlifter Cui Zhe – as they discuss their experiences of disability, and how they came to be Paralympians.

It’s beautifully produced, with graceful shots of the athletes in beautifully lit rooms. And naturally, the stories are moving, gritty tales, where heart and determination prosper over prejudice and adversity. Plus, Prince Harry makes an appearance, speaking in a role that he has some definite expertise.

The Telegraph’s Gerard O’Donovan absolutely loves it, giving it a full five stars and calling it a “wonderful, fiercely inspiring film.” He also praises the “exquisitely physical visuals of directors Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhôte and a terrific soundtrack by British composer Daniel Pemberton.” However The New York Times’ Natalia Winkelman believes that the film, “stacked with hero-worship, suffers from a lack of depth,” which she says is caused by their choice not to acknowledge the political discourse which surrounds the Paralympic games. But maybe that’s because they were so keen to tell an uplifting story? The Guardian’s Leslie Felperin thinks so, saying: “the film would have been more effective if its relentlessly uplifting score didn’t keep figuratively prodding the viewer in the chest, telling us to feel moved, dammit.”

Well, they needn’t have prodded, as how could we not be moved by such inspiring stories?

First aired August 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here:

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