A philosophically dense examination of greatness in which crude characterizations such as individuality vs. collective, creative vs. analytical, freedom vs. control, and discipline vs spontaneity, are wholly rejected, Gabe Polsky's In Search of Greatness suggests a polycentric approach to reaching the pinnacle of achievement, showcasing an unwillingness to accept that what makes any individual great in itself can be defined or constrained by any particular attributes or labels. Examining greatness through the lens of some of the greatest athletes of all time, the film is epistemic in approach, being a potent and engaging study that offers a treasure trove of ideas that fly in the face of conventional wisdom as to what is necessary for success in our contemporary culture. The film's examination of the systemic nature which sports culture has created is enlightening, as the film recognizes the suppressive nature which analytical systems of categorization and codification can have on the individual, making a spirited plea for more implicit learning and less crude analytics surrounding what makes someone great. In contemporary society we have become accustomed to place athletics and the arts in contention, yet this is starkly untrue as they are harmonically aligned, as sports just like any form of art whether it be music, photography, painting, or filmmaking are rooted in a form of creativity and artistic expression. In any such discipline, those who adhere to a rigid definitions are bound to struggle to reach a place of personal accomplishment, as such ideals are fundamentally inline with conformity and repression, forces often in contention with personal expression. Taking this one step further, In Search of Greatness asserts that discipline and order can often be repressive, in conflict with learning due to their inability to adhere to individual needs. In terms of craft, In Search of Greatness is relatively conventional yet it's ideas are not, being a film which is aspirational in it's ability to recognize how passion itself is a fundamental, and perhaps the paramount factor, to success in anything, not just sports. Perhaps the film's most interesting assertion though is how imagination and creativity economize intuition and analytical action, as the film once again rejects conventional ideas about specialization, instead arguing that diversity of experience is just as paramount to success, recognizing once again how these two ideas, just like imagination vs analytics, are not at odds but forces which are polycentric in their importance to greatness and success. A deeply invigorating documentary that is analytical and aspirational, In The Search of Greatness itself astutely recognizes that there are no fixed definitions that amount to success, showcasing how the ever shifting dichotomy we recognize between freedom vs control must be managed in the various social structures of society, as the film delivers a powerful and thought provoking deconstruction which should appeal to anyone, not just lovers of competitive sports.
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