A legend falls from grace. Another steps humbly from the spotlight. One city erupts in long-awaited celebration while another falls prey to anger and resentment. All the while, the rest of the world turns its eyes to U.S. soil for the World Cup. Such is the story in June 17th, 1994 (dir. Brett Morgen).
I was only eight years old during this tumultuous time in sports history. Much of it, however, I recall vividly. The O.J. Simpson case caught the attention of the U.S. overshadowing much of the other events in this documentary. I do recall footage of the Vancouver riots following game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs flashing across our 27” Toshiba (most likely in a small box in the corner while the main coverage concerned “The Juice”). As the white Bronco took off, leading a long pack of squad cars across Southern California, the feeling was unsettling. At the time, I was under the impression that sports and its heroes was infallible.
I was dead wrong.
Arnold Palmer, a man famous for being the greatest golfer ever, and for hawking my favorite tea beverage, walked away from his final U.S. Open with an unimpressive +16 score. But the raucous cheers were well-deserved for a humble legend. While on the flip-side of that legendary coin, Ken Griffey, Jr. sent a baseball splashing into the fountains of Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City, tying Babe Ruth for the most home runs at that point in the season. Our hearts break as this giant of the links struggles to putt from a few yards out.
June 17th, 1994 is unsettling most of the run-time, disregarding traditional talking head interviews and opting, instead, for a hectic re-edit of new footage with epic music as the soundtrack. Your heart breaks for Palmer, it soars with Griffey, and all over again our hearts tighten while watching one of the greatest running backs of all time speed away in the now iconic white Bronco. The story unfolds as one narrative as it hadn’t back then, revisiting the Los Angeles police department fumble at the press events, shrugging their shoulders when asked where O.J. is…then we’re whisked around the United States dropping in on the developing stories. At the time some of these lesser known stories may have slipped by you. In this documentary, they all come together for a chilling sports experience.
This may have been the first time I felt saddened by the state of the sports world. Up until then, we didn’t have to watch our heroes in court rooms deny ever using steroids or ask why the hell anyone would hire Randy Moss for two weeks. This documentary reminds us all again that the sports world is indeed infallible while inspirational at the same time.
We give June 17th, 1994 4.5 stars for its unique story telling that flows extremely well throughout the entirety of the film.
What do you think of June 17th, 1994? Do you like the way the story was told? Let us know in the comments!