What Do The Critics Say?
"Everyone knows the iconic photo of the two African-American athletes on the winner's podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics raising their fists in a black power salute. What you may not know is that the third (white) man on that podium was Australian sprinter Peter Norman, and this documentary, made by Peter's nephew Matt Norman, tells his story. Salute is an engaging and well-paced mix of history lesson (vital to explain the racially charged atmosphere surrounding the Men's 200 meter sprint finals), sports drama, and personal history. 4 STARS."
Anthony Morris WEBWOMBAT
"This wonderful humanitarian story: especially relevant on the eve of the Beijing Olympics; deserves to be told and it's a bit of a surprise it hasn't been told before, while Peter Norman was still alive. He died of a heart attack at age 65 in October 2006, but luckily his nephew the filmmaker, Matt Norman, recorded a lengthy interview with him earlier, which forms the backbone of the film. But maybe the bigger surprise is that Norman was not invited to the Sydney Olympics ceremony - considering he is still the record holding 200 metre sprinter in Australian history. Watching this film 40 years after the event drives home the sad realisation how little progress has been made in the area of racial harmony and compassion in this world. It also reminds us that Australia has something to be proud of as well as something to be ashamed of in the story of Peter Norman."
Andrew L Urban URBAN CINEFILE
"THAT old line about a picture being worth a thousand words didn't get it even half right. Salute is an enlightening, uplifting documentary built around one image, that of two African-American men on the dais at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, their black-gloved fists raised, their heads bowed, their shoes removed. While many may be unable to name the men in the photograph, it's an image burned into the consciousness of the 1960s. But what of that other guy in the picture? The skinny white fella seemingly oblivious to the groundbreaking silent protest behind him? His name is Peter Norman, the "unknown" Australian who won the silver medal. What Salute does so well is place the trio's 1968 Mexico City protest in context. It was the year of revolt worldwide, when change seemed really possible."
Chris Bartlett QUEENSLAND SUNDAY MAIL
Making A Stance For Justice
Salute is a journey back to the 1960's to examine what has now become one of the most famous Olympic moments in history. During this era the world was just three years away from the Cuban missile crisis and the threat of nuclear war, the horror of Vietnam, the assassinations of John F Kennedy and Robert 'Bobby' Kennedy, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Frightened and desperate people were rioting in the streets of Europe, and throughout the U.S. where there was an urgent push for civil rights. Black nations were threatening to boycott the Olympics in protest and black athletes within the U.S. team were being urged to boycott the Games. Into this atmosphere walked Peter Norman, whose performance had taken the U.S. team by surprise. Who was this unknown sprinter from Australia? He wasnít a typical sprinter: he was quietly spoken, short legged and white. In the 200 metres final, he ran the race of his life and split Tommie Smith and John Carlos, winning silver. As they waited for the presentation ceremony, Smith and Carlos told Peter of their plans. One had left behind his pair of black gloves, and at Peterís suggestion, they wore one each. Despite it not being a situation that affected him directly, Peter asked the Americans if he could join their protest. He felt there was a moral imperative on him to stand up against something he felt was wrong. Like Tommie and John, Peter wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of their silent protest. Lasting repercussions followed. Smith and Carlos were dropped from the relays and the team. They were kicked out of the Olympics and banned for life. Their lives were ruined, with Carlosís wife later committing suicide. The punishment of Peter was less dramatic but ultimately as destructive. Coming from a conservative family in a country that still had a white only immigration policy, Normanís stance caused a storm. He was hated in parts of the Australian establishment and the media turned on him. His chance to win gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics was stolen from him. Despite being the favourite to win gold, qualifying 13 times for the 200m and five times for the 100m, the powers that be refused to take him to Munich. For the first time Australia was not represented in the sprint events at an Olympics. At the Sydney 2000 Olympics in Australia, Peter Norman was not invited to attend in any official capacity. Australiaís best sprinter ever, whose 200m Mexico games time of 20 seconds flat would have won the gold medal at Sydney and whose Australian record still stands nearly fourty years later, wasnít even invited to the 200m final by the Australian Olympic authorities. He was, however, invited by the U.S. team who flew him to Sydney and he was treated as an American guest. Tragically Peter Norman died in October 2006. Both Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman's funeral.
Peter Norman the Man
Peter Norman was born in 1942 to George and Thelma Norman in Thornbury, Melbourne. His father, who met him for the first time when he was only two years old after returning from the war in New Guinea, would be one of Peterís biggest admirers. At 14 years of age during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games, Norman would wag school to attend the Olympics, securing a job at the Melbourne Olympic Stadium (the MCG) selling pies in the stands. His excitement grew when he saw the Golden Girl of Australian track and field, Betty Cuthbert, run. After leaving school to become an apprentice butcher, Peter knew that he wanted to be the best in his chosen sport: track and field. Peter immediately impressed with his ability to break records, landing a spot at the Olympics in Mexico, 1968. On returning from the games Peter was headline news not for his amazing second place in the 200 metres but instead for his political stance. The gold and bronze medalists were Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos. On the medal podium, during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner", Smith and Carlos famously joined in a black power salute. What is less known is that Norman, donned a badge on the podium in support of their cause, the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). It was also Norman who suggested that Smith and Carlos share the black gloves used in their salute, after Carlos had left his gloves in the Olympic Village. This is the reason for Tommie Smith raising his right fist, while John Carlos raised his left. Asked about his support of Smith and Carlos' cause by the world's press, Norman said he opposed his country's government's White Australia policy. Australia's Olympic authorities reprimanded Norman and the Australian media ostracized him. Despite qualifying 15 times for the 100m and five times for the 200m during 1971/72 the Australian Olympic track team did not pick Norman for the 1972 Summer Olympics. That year was the first ever where no Australian sprint team went to the Olympics. He kept running, but contracted gangrene in 1985 after tearing his Achilles Tendon during a training session, which nearly led to his leg being amputated. Norman died of a heart attack on October 3rd 2006 in Melbourne, Australia at the age of 64. The U.S. Track and Field Federation proclaimed October 9th 2006, the date of his funeral, as Peter Norman Day. Both Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman's funeral. Peter Norman died soon after seeing a rough cut of the film. One of Peterís last wishes was that his story be told.
The Racist White Australia Policy
The 'White Australia' policy describes Australia's approach to immigration, from federation until the latter part of the 20th century, which favoured applicants from certain countries. The abolition of the policy took place over a period of 25 years. Following the election of a coalition of the Liberal and Country parties in 1949, Immigration Minister Harold Holt allowed 800 non-European refugees to remain in Australia and Japanese war brides to enter Australia. Over subsequent years, Australian governments gradually dismantled the policy, with the final vestiges being removed in 1973 by the new Labor government. The origins of the 'White Australia' policy can be traced to the 1850s. White miners' resentment towards industrious Chinese diggers culminated in violence on the Buckland River in Victoria, and at Lambing Flat (now Young) in New South Wales. The governments of these two colonies introduced restrictions on Chinese immigration. Later, it was the turn of hard-working indentured labourers from the South Sea Islands of the Pacific (known as 'kanakas') in northern Queensland. Factory workers in the south became vehemently opposed to all forms of immigration, which might threaten their jobs - particularly by non-white people who they thought would accept a lower standard of living and work for lower wages. Some influential Queenslanders felt that the colony would be excluded from the forthcoming Federation if the 'kanaka' trade did not cease. Leading NSW and Victorian politicians warned there would be no place for 'Asiatics' or 'coloureds' in the Australia of the future. In 1901, the new federal government passed an Act ending the employment of Pacific Islanders. The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 received royal assent on 23 December 1901. It was described as an Act 'to place certain restrictions on immigration and to provide for the removal from the Commonwealth of prohibited immigrants'. It prohibited from immigration those considered to be insane, anyone likely to become a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution, and any person suffering from an infectious or contagious disease 'of a loathsome or dangerous character'. It also prohibited prostitutes, criminals, and anyone under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour within Australia (with some limited exceptions). Other restrictions included a dictation test, used to exclude certain applicants by requiring them to pass a written test in a language, with which they were not necessarily familiar, nominated by an immigration officer. In 1919 the Prime Minister, William Morris Hughes, hailed it as 'the greatest thing we have achieved'. During World War II, many non-white refugees entered Australia. Most left voluntarily at the end of the war, but many had married Australians and wanted to stay. Arthur Calwell, the first immigration minister, sought to deport them, arousing much protest. Minister Holt's decision in 1949 to allow 800 non-European refugees to stay, and Japanese war brides to be admitted, was the first step towards a non-discriminatory immigration policy. The next major step was in 1957 when non-Europeans with 15 years residence in Australia were allowed to become Australian citizens. An announcement in March 1966 was the watershed in abolishing the 'White Australia' policy, and non-European migration began to increase. Yearly non-European settler arrivals rose from 746 in 1966 to 2,696 in 1971, while yearly part-European settler arrivals rose from 1,498 to 6,054. In 1973 the Whitlam Labor government took three further steps in the gradual process to remove race as a factor in Australia's immigration policies.
Synopsis
The picture of the three men on the winnerís podium after the Menís 200m final at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is to this day, still considered one of the most powerful images of modern history. Almost forgotten in the ensuing years is the seemingly quiet and composed man in the left of the picture, Australian silver medalist Peter Norman. Why is he considered a household name throughout the United States even today, yet he's own country is a virtual unknown, even though he is still the current Australian and Commonwealth record holder? And why do the other medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos think of him as a brother? Salute is the story of a man snobbed by the Australian Olympic Organizing committee. It's the story of the quiet man. A man who believe in equallity. The forgotten man. And it's a timely salute to him and all he stood for and believed in from 1968 until his death.
The Verdict
"Watching Matt Norman's tribute film to 1968 Olympic Silver Medallist Peter Norman, begs the question: How far have we come since those very troubled days? In many ways we haven't come very far at all. Despite the abolition of the 'White Australia Policy', racism and discrimination appears to be very much alive in 'the lucky country'. By making a stand for his belief that all men and women were born equal regardless of their race or colour, Peter Norman sealed his fate when it came to a sporting career as an international athlete. "Salute" is a sad indictment of the Australian Olympic movement for their treatment of an athlete who is to this day is still refered to as the fastest white man of all time over 200 metres. It's a story that deserved to be told and should be seen. Though it does at times carry a very strong message regarding racial discrimination, it doesn't diminish the films value at all. While I'm sure "Salute" will raise some cinemagoers blood pressure, the majority of viewers will see this as an enthralling and wonderful tribute to a great man. Highly recommended. 4 SOLID STARS."
Cast & Crew
Peter Norman
Tommie Smith
John Carlos
Paul Hoffman
Payton Jordan
Cleve Livingston
Cordiner Nelson
Larry Questad
Bob Steiner
Wyomia Tyus
Ray Weinberg
George Williams
Willie Wyte
Narrator
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Christopher Kirby
Directed by Matt Norman
Written by Matt Norman
Produced by Matt Norman & David Redman
Original Music by David Hirschfelder
Cinematography by Martin Smith
Film Editing by John Leonard & Jane Moran
Assistant editor Matt Norman
Sound Department Scott Findlay & Michael Slater
Visual Effects Supervisor by Ralph Moser
Editorial Department
Music Supervisor Peter Hoyland
Research and Clearance Lisa Savage
Additional Researcher Phillippa Moore
Run Time 92 minutes
Rated PG [AUST]
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