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100 Years of Olympic Films, 15: Tokyo, 1964
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • Japanese PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

100 Years of Olympic Films, 15: Tokyo, 1964

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Nobumasa Kawamoto
2017 | 156 Minutes | Licensor: International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $399.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: December 5, 2017
Review Date: January 24, 2018

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SYNOPSIS

Spanning fifty-three movies and forty-one editions of the Olympic Games, 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912–2012 is the culmination of a monumental, award-winning archival project encompassing dozens of new restorations by the International Olympic Committee. The documentaries collected here cast a cinematic eye on some of the most iconic moments in the history of modern sports, spotlighting athletes who embody the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”: Jesse Owens shattering world records on the track in 1936 Berlin, Jean-Claude Killy dominating the Grenoble slopes in 1968, Joan Benoit breaking away to win the Games’ first women’s marathon in Los Angeles in 1984. In addition to the impressive ten-feature contribution of Bud Greenspan, this stirring collective chronicle of triumph and defeat includes such documentary landmarks as Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia and Kon Ichikawa’s Tokyo Olympiad, along with captivating lesser-known works by major directors like Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, and Miloš Forman. It also offers a fascinating glimpse of the development of film itself, and of the technological progress that has brought viewers ever closer to the action. Traversing continents and decades, reflecting the social, cultural, and political changes that have shaped our recent history, this remarkable movie marathon showcases a hundred years of human endeavor.


PICTURE

Sensation of the Century, an alternate film covering the Tokyo 1964 Olympics after the Japanese minister for the Games found the original film, Kon Ichikawa’s Tokyo Olympiad, too unconventional, is presented here on the 15th disc of Criterion’s 100 Years of Olympic Films. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this dual-layer disc and either comes from a 2K or 4K restoration.

The film was actually constructed from footage shot by Ichikawa for Tokyo Olympiad, a lot of it coming from that film but there is some material exclusive to this film. Comparing the similar scenes between the two films I can’t say they look all too different from one another on screen. At any rate film grain has been left intact and the level of detail is again extraordinary, those slow motion segments coming off especially crisp. Colours can pop at times and black levels are again strong, but some night sequences present some murkier blacks like the former film, though I’d again say it’s inherent in the source. Surprisingly the film still makes use of Ichikawa’s black-and-white footage and like everything else it again looks really strong.

Paired with the impressive restoration work, which has removed every significant bit of damage, the final image is another really strong one, and it’s just about as good as Tokyo Olympiad’s final presentation.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The audio is presented in lossless PCM 1.0 mono. The soundtrack isn’t as creative as Ichikawa’s and is a more conventional film, simply going through the events so we get basic background sounds, some music, and narration. The narration can be a bit edgy but on the whole the track is clean and manages to show some range.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The only disappointing aspect to this set is that there are no on-disc special features to speak of. The set does come with an incredibly thorough 216-page hardbound book, featuring material on the restorations by Adrian Wood along with essays covering the films, all written by film scholar Peter Cowie. It also filled with photos from the various events. For the 1964 games Cowie has written one lengthy essay about both Tokyo Olympiad and Sensation of the Century, though the essay focuses more on Ichikawa’s film, only mentioning this one in passing. In fact the best praise he can manage to muster for Sensation is that it shows events not covered in Ichikawa’s film. (The grade given here refers to the supplements for the set as a whole, which, in this case, is just the included book.)

5/10

CLOSING

This film is more of a curiosity but it at least looks and sounds great.




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