Edited from shots taken in three sports clubs in Łódź, this documentary uses images of exercising workers to encourage physical activity. The directors don’t hide their propagandistic purpose. From the very beginning, it becomes blatantly clear that the film subscribes to the Communist discourse.
Reminiscent of the openings from Soviet films, the first frames present a scale weighing different types of exercise to visually highlight the importance of physical fitness. When the next cut reveals muscular male bodies, the voice-over narrator announces: ‘Sport improves both our health and appearance. Everyone would love to look like this. It’s best to start at an early age.’ From then on, the film edits observational shots that illustrate the narrator’s message.
After a quick glance at barefoot children who are erratically running in circles, the film cuts to more structured methods of exercising by showing young girls and boys in a gymnasium to then reveal women attending a dancing class. The camera pauses for a moment to admire the fluency of their movements to the tones of music.
At this point, the narrator starts prescribing different exercises for the two genders. While ‘the softness and flexibility of feminine figure are best achieved in eurhythmics’, the fencing men in the next sequence are applauded for their ‘knightly fighting techniques’, as is a young boxer from the following scene.
Although Sport for Everyone promotes gender appropriate exercise routines, it doesn’t discriminate against any age group, claiming that ‘in sports halls, age differences disappear’.
This is taken a step further to accentuate the suitability of sport for the Communist society. When the camera moves to a crowded outdoor swimming pool, the voice-over claims that sport also erases social differences.
In its final scenes, the film returns to the eurhythmics class to introduce one of the dancers as a worker from a textile factory who spends her evenings exercising. A few men that follow her are, according to the narrator, also employed in different capacities by local factories and sports clubs. In the end, the commentator once again applauds sport, this time as the best boost for workers’ self-esteem and enjoyment.
Despite its obvious subscription to the propaganda of its time, which fetishized physical strength and competitive spirit to promote health and discipline among the working classes, the film also celebrates the Communist government for securing the new public sports infrastructure and leisure activities for an average citizen.
Outside its immediate political context, Sport for Everyone stands out as an early post-war documentary that offers dazzling imagery of exercise routines. To this day, several of its sequences can attract viewers not only thanks to the narrator’s insistent emphasis on health promotion but also because of the directors’ visual understanding of the relationship between space, sound and the human body in motion.