Oct 22, 2009
The wildest horse race in the world.
The Last Victory
Strap in, you guys. It's documentary time!
Okay, actually, I employed the fast forward button through a lot of The Last Victory, because I'm like that with documentaries. It's not that it's bad, it's just that I am easily bored.
The Last Victory documents the August 2003 Palio di Siena, or Il Palio (The Palio), in Siena, Italy. It follows the Civetta contrada (Little Owl district) in its quest to win the Palio for the first time since 1979. The only other contrada looking at a worse string of losses is Torre (Tower), which as of 2003 had not won since 1961. So, hey, at least they're not Torre. They should be happy with their lot in life, right?
We follow a few people in the contrada as they prepare for the Palio, stopping their normal lives and dropping everything to either talk about the Palio constantly, set up the local stable in which they will keep their randomly assigned horse, secretly convene with other contrada members and jockeys to determine secret things that most likely have to do with money, make banners and flags, cook a lot of food, drink champagne out of Dixie cups, and try not to get into any rivalry related brawling. It's all good fun!
When the draw for their horses finally comes along, everyone is besides themselves when Civetta is assigned Number Six, a nice little bay with a white star, who won the previous Palio. Everyone cries and drinks more champagne out of Dixie cups, because they have the best horse and they have a really good jockey, so this could very well be their year. They sequester Number Six away in a pretty awesome stable, where he is surrounded by photos of previous Civetta winners and cast in the glow of a chandelier.
The next morning dawns. Most of Civetta watches the Palio on a television they've hooked up in an alley somewhere, totally ignoring the festivities going on at the actual Palio. This sort of annoyed me, because when we could be watching Palio related festivities we are watching small children stare at a television.
In fact, we see almost nothing of the actual Palio. Mainly, we watch the people from Civetta cry while it appears someone from the documentary crew gets into the mass hysteria after the race and gets punched in the face. (As an aside, I was rooting for one of the grays, so I win!) It's a tough break, Civetta. In fact, Torre wins the Palio in 2005, leaving Civetta with the dreaded Nonna status, having not won the Palio in thirty years by the summer of 2009.
But luck has to shine on them eventually:
Good for you, Civetta. I assume this is how I will feel when someone, anyone, finally wins the Triple Crown.
The Last Victory kind of makes me want to read Gaudenzia, Pride of the Palio by Marguerite Henry now. Perhaps this will happen.