Untold: Caitlyn Jenner, directed by Crystal Moselle, is a documentary film provides us a glimpse inside the life of American Olympian Bruce Jenner. For those who are unfamiliar with Bruce, he won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal in the decathlon (a combined event in athletics comprising of ten track and field events).
Casting of the Movie
- Caitlyn Jenner
- Burt Jenner
- Vince Stryker
Caitlyn as Bruce
Caitlyn Marie Jenner was born in Mount Kisco, New York, on October 28, 1949. Until June 2015, she was known as Bruce Jenner. Her mother was Esther Ruth and father William Hugh Jenner. Jenner was diagnosed with dyslexia as a kid. Jenner received a football scholarship and attended Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, but due to a knee injury, he was forced to discontinue playing football.
Jenner earned a physical education degree from Graceland College in 1973. Jenner married Chrystie Crown over and relocated to San Jose, California after graduating from Graceland. As a United Airlines flight attendant, Crown over provided the majority of the family’s income. Jenner earned US$9,000 a year by training during the day and selling insurance at night. This type of training was unheard of until professional American athletes were permitted to compete in Olympic sports. Soviet athletes, on the other hand, were state-sponsored, giving them an edge over amateur American athletes.
Jenner’s Early Career
Jenner was 11th in the Men’s Decathlon following the 1972 US Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, and climbed 5th behind Steve Gough and Andrew Pettes with a one-time event on the 4th July. Jenner finished the Olympic team first 22 seconds ahead of him in order to take a 19-second break from Gough in the 1,500 meters.
The Eugène guard asked: “Who is Jenner?” This led him to inquire. After the test, Jenner had tenth place in the decathlon in Munich, West Germany, for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Jenner was motivated to start a rigorous training routine when he saw Soviet Mykola Avilov win the event.
Jenner was motivated to start a rigorous training routine when he saw Soviet Mykola Avilov win the event. “Literally I began to exercise at midnight that night, and I trained for the Games in the streets of Munich. That day, 6–8 hours a day, each day, 365 days a year I trained throughout the 1976 Games.”
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Jenner scored personal bests in all five events on the opening day of the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal – a “home run” – despite finishing second to West German Guido Kratschmer. Jenner was certain: “The second day is jam-packed with all of my favorite activities. If everything goes as planned, we should come out ahead in the end.”
Following a downpour on the second day, Jenner saw teammate Fred Dixon get hurt in the 110 meter hurdles, so he approached the hurdles and discus with caution, then achieved personal bests in the pole vault, when Jenner grabbed the lead, and javelin. At that time, victory was almost certain, and it remained to be seen how much Jenner would enhance his record. Jenner appeared pleased to conclude the long competition in the last event, the 1500 meters, which was shown live on national television.
Jenner ran the final lap, nearly catching the event favorite, Leonid Litvinenko of the Soviet Union, who was already out of contention for the gold medal and whose personal best was eight seconds faster than Jenner’s prior to the event. Jenner won the gold medal with a world-record score of 8,618 points, setting a new personal best time.
Jenner’s Personal Record
- 100 meters– 10.94 s (1976)
- 400 meters– 47.51 s (1976)
- 1500 meters– 4:12.61 min:sec (1976)
- 110 meters hurdles– 14.84 s (1976)
- High jump– 2.03 m (6.7 ft) (1976)
- Pole vault– 4.80 m (15.7 ft) (1976)
- Long jump– 7.22 m (23.7 ft) (1976)
- Shot put– 15.35 m (50.4 ft) (1976)
- Discus throw– 50.04 m (164.2 ft) (1976)
- Javelin throw(old) – 68.52 m (224.8 ft) (1976)
- Decathlon– 8634 pts (1976)
Coming Out as a Transgender Woman
Jenner came out as a trans woman in a 20-20 interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015, claiming that, “for all purposes, I am a woman.” She has suffered with gender dysphoria since her adolescence. Jenner cross-dressed for several years and took hormonal substitution but came to a halt in 1991 following relationship with Kris Kardashian.
Jenner says she has the opportunity on holiday, but not while they are paired, to explore her gender identity, and that not understanding the best approach to address the numerous problems has helped the 23-year deterioration of marriage, which finally terminated in 2015.
In 2015, Jenner stated she was never attracted to males, she was always sexually drawn to women and that she was now identified as asexual given the difficulties people have in comprehending the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity. In January 2017, Jenner was subjected to cosmetic and eventually to sexual assignment.
Plot of the Movie
Before you grab popcorn and start watching movie, here is a short plot of the movie that can increase the intensity of the film.
The video opens with footage from the 1976 Montreal Olympics, in which Bruce tells his Soviet opponent Nikolai Avilov, “It’s all over, it’s all over.” As the film progresses, we hear a husky female voice remark, “I always had these difficulties flowing through me, but I don’t think I would have done what I did if it weren’t for them.”
This shift in voice tenor is what draws you in to the film. The “untold” narrative of Bruce Jenner is revealed through Caitlyn Jenner’s voice. The film depicts Bruce’s will to win following a failed effort at the 1972 Olympics. “I desired the distinction of world’s finest athlete.”
This documentary shows us how Bruce Jenner trained for the Olympics, won it, then struggled with himself, using newly unearthed Olympic film, highlight reels, and home video footage from the Jenner family.
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Caitlyn’s life path is illuminated by the remarks of Bruce’s first wife, Chrystie, son Burt, and Vince Stryker, his best friend and training partner at San Jose City College during the 1970s. Caitlyn talks about her sex transition on television, strong and clear about who she was and who she is. “It was simply this big secret in my life that I couldn’t talk about….I was suffering severely from gender dysphoria,” she says. Caitlyn Jenner, who is the Republican opponent to Democrat Gavin Newsom in the forthcoming California gubernatorial recall election, has been in the headlines recently.
The problem with this documentary is that the narrative stutters after two-thirds of the way through. It gets hurried and hazy, and by the conclusion, you realize that you already knew all there was to know. The documentary covers the story of Bruce’s gender reassignment operation, but it doesn’t go into detail into his personal life, despite a few glimpses of him having fun with his kids.
Jenner’s second marriage is not mentioned, and the story glosses over the finer aspects of her life, but it ends on a spiritual and uplifting note: “‘Why did you do this?’ you may ask God…. All I can do now is move on. But now we’re in a new chapter, so let’s see what Caitlyn can accomplish.”
Overall, this film is underwhelming and leaves you wanting more.
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