Ivan manoeuvres Don into remembering the accident that broke Rick's back. It's an uncomfortable memory, but believing the incident is a big part of his story, the reporter pushes and Don reveals an long buried secret.
The Great Wall snakes across the mountains in China's high country. In many places, ancient stone stairs are the only route op to the wall. Faced with the impossible reality that he can not climb the steep, narrow stone entrance, Rick is quick to frustration. His long held dream hangs in the balance.
After a year of pushing himself half way across the world, Rick, Amanda, Don and Lee find themselves at the centre of million Chinese who have embraced their dream. It's both a moment of triumph and reflection as Rick remembers how long the journey has been from obscurity for everyone who knows disability.
Steeper, hotter and rougher than expected, Rick's ascent up the Great Wall is measured in how much longer his body can sustain its core temperate rising. Don presses Amanda for a solution that will allow the climb go continue.
Half way into their ascent of The Great Wall, Rick stops - a necessary break to cool him down. A wave of emotion washes over him as Rick wonders if his dream of making the world pay attention, matters to anyone. Lee sits quietly worried about how hard this must be. Don takes the opportunity to say something, he has been waiting a lifetime for. It is an honest moment between best friends that needed to be said.
On a back road in the high country, heat and exhaustion have begun to take their toll. Amanda no longer to keep up to Rick's pace, falls behind. Don struggles and like Amanda, can no longer endure the heat and is left in the shadow of a dragon, pushing through the pain of the Great Wall.
With an upper body overdeveloped from pushing his wheelchair chair half way around the world, Rick's muscles produce heat that must be controlled during his climb up the Great Wall. Recurring infection and fever make the effort to control his temperature more difficult as he struggles with the increasing grade and the sun that quickly warms the mountain air. Ivan, a reporter searching for a story to discredit Rick's dream of redefining disability, challenges Amanda who uses science to explain, Rick has risked his life to make the world pay attention.
Chinese legend has it, the Great Wall was built over the centuries on the blood of those who died and were buried beneath it. In recent times, Chairman Mao told his people that to be a hero, one must reach the Great Wall. For Rick Hansen, Don Alder, Amanda and Mike Reid, Lee Gibson and others, climbing the Wall would prove to a skeptical world that their dreams mattered. In this scene, they awake early in a village at the base of the Great Wall with the knowledge press from China and around the world will soon soon descend to witness their climb. Unnerved by Ivan, the only reporter to arrive early, the team push to the Wall, while Amanda worries Rick's fatigue and the steepness of the climb could end his dream.
We're so excited for the Special Event Screening in Toronto on September 28 that we've decided to do a countdown to the event to get you just as excited about it as we are! Everyday for the next 10 days we will be posting different clips from the film which we believe exemplify the true meaning of what it means to be a hero. Please like, comment, share with your friends and make sure you reserve your FREE ticket today!
In this scene, an American reporter based in China reminds us that in the 1980s, a man in a wheel chair pushing himself across the world was not taken very seriously. The reporter wonders if its a publicity stunt. It's a harsh reminder of how sceptical many people were of a disabled man trying to make a difference. Reluctantly the reporter accepts the assignment and begins his investigation into why a million Chinese are in the streets to welcome a hero from the West.
In the interview excerpt below, Mike Jacobs who worked with Victor Webster - teaching him what it took to play a disabled athlete, talks about Victor's journey and his own. Sadly, Mike Jacobs passed away before seeing the film completed but his contribution to the movie and the lessons learned by all lucky enough to have crossed his path, will never be forgotten.
Q. Tell me about the Victor Webster?
A. Victor is a good man with a good heart and a good sense of humour which he will really need. When I'm teaching actors about what it means and feels like to be disabled, it can be very emotional for them and for me. I try to make it funny sometimes but its all very hard work. Victor is tough on the outside but inside he's a gentle giant of man. Just like me, except the movie star thing.
Q. What did you teach him first?
A. To laugh at himself and at me.
Q. How did you do that?
A. By reminding Victor that he was taller than me but, I wouldn't hold it against him. And even though he was better looking and had more hair, I didn't hold that against him either.
Q. Beyond those things, what impressed you about the young man you were about to make over into a disabled athlete?
A. The thing that impressed me most was that he was very serious and very thoughtful about what he was doing and very focused, just like another great actor I worked with years before.
Q. Who was that?
A. Early on with Victor, I had a flashback about dealing with Jon Voight when we were first starting out on the movie 'Coming Home'. Like Victor, Jon was so determined to get it right. He wanted to get into the head trip. He wanted to know about the psychology about the emotions. And that was relatively easy for me because for anyone that's been through it, its in our memory bank. You don't want to recollect it everyday but your are never that far away from it.
Q. Have you always been an optimist?
A. I'd say, I'm a realist. I woke up in a hospital after my accident and I knew everything changed. At first, I felt sorry for myself and I got mad at god and everybody else until I learned to listen to the people around me. They cared for and loved me whether I was in a chair or not. All of a sudden, it didn't matter how tall I was anymore, so I figured it was time to get on with this life.
Q. When did the question of god come up?
A. Victor and I went through all the embarrassments because it's a list you have in your head when you’re first hurt. The first few days, the first few weeks when you’re lying there and you’re saying why me? And you’re bargaining with god saying. “I’ll be good and go to church everyday if you heal me”.
Then you ask god, “why is my hair falling out and by the way, I can’t walk either”. So pretty soon you have this list in your head. All the things that you can’t do and you won’t be able to do. And after a few weeks, the list starts to shrink. And in my case, I had to give up ballet and beach volleyball - after I was comfortable and things got a lot better, because then you look around and say, ‘okay here I am , what can I do with it’.
Q, What are you going to take Victor now?
A. Believe it or not, the thing we’re working on most is stretching. I want him to be a pretzel- he’s got to be like a gymnast. If he’s going to make the right moves and look real- for someone who’s paralyzed, Victor will have to lose some muscle tone and muscle tension. You have to get in certain positions to make other things easier to do. The way I explained it to him,before I did the demonstration - I said, when you make a transfer and you go from your wheelchair to whatever else, in order to make any transfer - you have to get your head and your shoulders down and your butt up. There are certain muscle groups you have to strengthen. Muscles you haven’t used before. I don’t care if you’re the biggest bodybuilder in the world, you have to be able to go and put your chest down on your knees easily and stay there.
I did a demonstration on how to transfer, what looks real, a normal transfer from a wheelchair to a bench. Now, I have him transferring to a bed. Once he’s in bed and he’s over here and the object of his interest is over there, how is he going to get from here to there, without moving his legs?
Its an important thing to be able to do - so that’s what he’s working on right now and when we get together the next time, I’m going to see how well he did his homework.
Q. Do you think that by learning to play a disabled man, Victor will change the way he sees the world?
A. It's pretty clear to me, he knows a lot about disability already. Victor doesn't see the wheelchair or any line between his life and mine. That's why I like him. I think its also why he got the job to play such a demanding role in a important movie, just like Jon Voight did all those years ago when I was taller and had more hair.
To be continued...
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