When We Were Kings (1997)


Leon Gast directs Muhammed Ali, George Foreman and James Brown in this fly on the wall documentary following the boxers, promoters, press and musicians trapped in Zaire waiting for a delayed championship bout to be fought.

A vibrant collage of the seventies black American entertainment scene transposed to exotic surroundings with some frankly magical boxing and live music footage taking centre stage. Just lots of fun as various icons alternatively print their own legends direct to camera or laze in hotel lobbies together, none less so than the captivating Ali. Perhaps only the old white men writerly types of Norman Mailer and George Plimptom “talking head”ing retrospectively suck out some of the magic. Their yen to author the narrative when the assembled footage sings it own beautiful tune makes for annoying interludes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.