ESPN Films’ Latest 30 For 30 Installment Deserves Its Own Medal

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The Price of Gold, ESPN Film’s latest release in its award-winning 30 for 30 series, is an interesting look at the events leading up to and after the now infamous attack on figure skating star Nancy Kerrigan.  The film, directed by Nanette Burstein, will keep viewers fully engaged throughout its near ninety-minute run time.  That is because of its central story.  The central story is one of Harding as an underdog that came from nothing to surprise everyone in what was essentially a world reserved for those in the upper class only to lose it all at the height of her career.  Along the way, Harding pleads her case, claiming that she had nothing to do with ex-husband Jeff Gillooly’s attack on Nancy Kerrigan.  She claims in her argument that she was just as much a victim as Kerrigan, denying she had any involvement in the scandal.  The story itself is so gripping that even those that might not be figure skating fans will want to listen to this polarizing figure tell her story.  This is the center of what makes The Price of Gold well worth the watch.  The classic footage culled to flesh out the story makes the presentation all the richer.  Vintage newscasts, interviews with a younger Tonya Harding, and footage of both Harding and Kerrigan throughout the scandal help to bring the story even more full circle.  Interviews with those closest to the scandal bring everything full circle.  Interestingly enough, the one person that audiences would want to hear from—Kerrigan—don’t hear from.  That’s because she turned down requests to be interviewed for the film.  But her husband and those close to her explain why she didn’t want to be interviewed.  It makes the entire story that much more griping and that much more another wonderful addition to ESPN Films’ award-winning series.

The central point of The Price of Gold is the story itself.  The story presented in this film is the classic rise and fall of an unexpected star.  In this case, the unexpected star was one Tonya Harding.  Harding’s story starts with a young woman that wanted everything because she came from nothing.  She felt that she had something to prove, and that put a chip on her shoulder.  Harding’s problem is that she got everything that she wanted and more.  The result would be her ultimate downfall.  That desire to have everything led to being surrounded and hounded day in and day out by the media machine after the attack on Kerrigan.  There’s no disagreeing with her comments concerning the media machine’s cold blooded nature.  It’s amazing to learn that the media was so hungry for pictures of and reactions from her that they would even get a tow company to try and take her truck just to lure her out for reactions.  She is so convincing in her one-on-one interviews that one can’t help but wonder if indeed she didn’t have anything to do with the attack.  Especially considering the post-film follow-up on where Jeff Gillooly is today, one can’t help but think that maybe Gillooly did what he did to Kerrigan of his own volition.  That’s not to say that he did by any means.  But it definitely raises the possibility of it being the case.  Her personal story intertwined with the scandal that rose from that personal story by themselves are reason enough for viewers to watch this latest addition to the 30 for 30 series.  The positives don’t end here, either.  The vintage footage of a young Tonya Harding, the vintage newscasts, and footage of both Harding and Kerrigan through it all make the story all the richer.  They collectively are the next part of what makes this film well worth the watch.

The story of Tonya Harding’s unlikely rise and then fall from grace is the kind of thing one only expects in major movies.  But it is just as gripping on the small screen, as viewers will see here.  That story is made all the richer thanks to the vintage footage of a much younger Tonya Harding as well as the classic news footage that documented her rise and fall (and that likely helped contribute to it, too).  That footage set next to the footage of both her and competitor Nancy Kerrigan training and competing on the ice brings the story to a whole different level.  The footage of the two young women practicing and competing shows Harding as a woman with one thing in mind.  That one thing was winning.  Her reactions to the media’s unending assaults will actually have viewers contemplating whether or not she really played a role in the attack on Kerrigan.  It’s almost as if the media had painted her to be the villain and even wanted her to be the villain.  Her behavior towards the media makes it seem like she might not have actually taken part in the attack.  As vehemently as she denied the accusations, one can’t help but wonder if Gillooly did what he did to make her look like a villain.  It’s one more important part of the whole that is this film.  And it’s not all that makes it so watchable, either. 

So much work went into bringing The Price of Gold come to life.  Just as much went into making it the interesting film that it is even for those that are not fans of the figure skating world.  As is noted in the film’s included interviews, this story is the type of thing that one only expects from soap operas on television.  This story is its very own soap opera.  And making it even more gripping is the fact that Nancy Kerrigan declined to be interviewed for the film.  This brings everything full circle.  Audiences get to hear Tonya Harding’s side of the story.  But the only times that they hear from Kerrigan is from the vintage practice and competition footage.  Oddly enough, everything that Harding states in her interviews about Kerrigan is backed up by the included footage.  It’ll leave viewers scratching their heads even more.  That combined with Harding’s vehement denial of being involved in the attack makes this more than just a soap opera, but a crime drama of sorts that everyone will be talking about the next day.  The Price of Gold airs tonight on ESPN at 9pm ET.  More information on this and other installments in ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.                    

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