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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 32 Discs
FEATURES
  • A lavishly illustrated, 216-page hardcover book, featuring notes on the films by cinema historian Peter Cowie; a foreword by Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee; a short history of the restoration project by restoration producer Adrian Wood; and hundreds of photographs from a century of Olympic Games

100 Years of Olympic Films

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Yuri Ozerov, Louis Gueguen, Lee Kwang-soo, Lee Ji-won, Kim Takai, Kieth Merrill, Joe Jay Jalbert, Jean-Jacques Languepin, Jean-Claude Labrecque, Jean de Rovera, Jean Beaudin, Mai Zetterling, , Michael Pfleghar, Wilhelm Prager, Tony Maylam, , Tancred Ibsen, Romolo Marcellini, , R. Douglas Copsey, Peter Whitchurch, Othmar Gurtner, Nancy Beffa, Jacques Ertaud, Im Kwon-taek, Arthur Penn, , Alberto Isaac, Adrian Wood, Leni Riefenstahl, Arnold Fanck, Carlos Saura, Kon Ichikawa, Milos Forman, John Schlesinger, Bud Greenspan, Carl Junghans, Caroline Rowland, Heribert Meisel, Herbert Brieger, Hannu Leminen, Gu Jun, Giorgio Ferroni, Georges Dufaux, , Drummond Challis, Claude Lelouch, Castleton Knight, Masahiro Shinoda
2017 | 6124 Minutes | Licensor: International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $399.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #900
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: December 5, 2017
Review Date: December 11, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Spanning fifty-three movies and forty-one editions of the Olympic Summer and Winter Games, this one-of-a-kind collection assembles, for the first time, a century’s worth of Olympic films—the culmination of a monumental, award-winning archival project encompassing dozens of new restorations by the International Olympic Committee. These documentaries 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 sprinting world records on the track in 1936 Berlin, Jean Claude-Killy dominating the slopes of Grenoble in 1968, Joan Benoit breaking away to win the first-ever women’s marathon on the streets of Los Angeles in 1984. In addition to the work of Bud Greenspan, the man behind an impressive ten Olympic features, this stirring collective chronicle of triumph and defeat includes such landmarks of the documentary form as Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia and Kon Ichikawa’s Tokyo Olympiad, along with lesser-known but captivating contributions by major directors like Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, and Miloš Forman. It also serves as a fascinating window onto the formal development of cinema itself, as well as the technological progress that has enabled the viewer, over the years, to get ever closer to the action. Traversing continents and decades, and reflecting as well the social, cultural, and political changes that have shaped our recent history, this remarkable marathon of films offers nothing less than a panorama of a hundred years of human endeavor.


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection in participation with the International Olympic Committee presents their most ambitious box set to date, 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912 – 2012. This massive 32-disc Blu-ray box set presents 54 films (53 if you count both parts of Olympia as one film) covering the Olympic games over the last century. All of the films from 1992 and prior have been restored by the IOC through the years in various resolutions, from high-definition to 4K. Based on the notes on the restorations it sounds like the set is utilizing existing masters for films made after 1992 (as of this writing I have not made it to the 1992 and beyond films).

Since Criterion’s announcement of the set I debated how I would cover it considering how massive it is. Since I’m not going to be able to cover it in a very timely manner I’m going to go through it disc-by-disc and write up reviews for each disc, linking to them from this one. I will update this one with links to individual coverage as I get through them, and then once I get through all of them I will update this one with a capsule overview of the set.

Disc 01: Stockholm 1912
The Games of the V Olympiad Stockholm, 1912: 8/10

Disc 02: Chamonix 1924/Paris 1924
The Olympic Games Held at Chamonix in 1924: 7/10
The Olympic Games as They Were Practiced in Ancient Greece: 6/10
The Olympic Games in Paris 1924: 7/10

Disc 03: St. Moritz 1928
The White Stadium: 8/10

Disc 04: Amsterdam 1928
The IX Olympiad in Amsterdam: 8/10

Disc 05: Amsterdam 1928
The Olympic Games, Amsterdam 1928: 7/10

Disc 06: Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936/Berlin 1936
Youth of the World: 6/10
Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations: 9/10
Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty: 9/10

Disc 07: St. Moritz 1948/London 1948
Fight Without Hate: 9/10
XIVth Olympiad: The Glory of Sport: 9/10

Disc 08: Oslo 1952
The VI Olympic Winter Games, Oslo 1952: 9/10

Disc 09: Helsinki 1952
Where the World Meets: 7/10
Gold and Glory: 7/10
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952: 8/10

Disc 10: Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956
White Vertigo: 7/10

Disc 11: Melbourne/Stockholm 1936
Olympic Games, 1956: 6/10
The Melbourne Rendez-vous: 9/10
Alain Mimoun: 8/10
The Horse in Focus: 7/10

Disc 12: Squaw Valley 1960/Rome 1960
People, Hopes, Medals: 7/10
The Grand Olympics: 7/10

Disc 13: Innsbruck 1964
IX Olympic Winter Games, Innsbruck 1964: 9/10

Disc 14: Tokyo 1964
Tokyo Olympiad: 9/10

Disc 15: Tokyo 1964
Sensation of the Century: 9/10

Disc 16: Grenoble 1968
13 Days in France: 9/10
Snows of Grenoble: 8/10

The following average may be updated as I go through the set.

8/10

We currently do not have Blu-ray captures for this title but are in the process of gathering captures for all of our Blu-ray reviews. Please check back again soon.

AUDIO

Disc 01: Stockholm 1912
The Games of the V Olympiad Stockholm, 1912: 7/10

Disc 02: Chamonix 1924/Paris 1924
The Olympic Games Held at Chamonix in 1924: 7/10
The Olympic Games as They Were Practiced in Ancient Greece: 7/10
The Olympic Games in Paris 1924: 7/10

Disc 03: St. Moritz 1928
The White Stadium: 7/10

Disc 04: Amsterdam 1928
The IX Olympiad in Amsterdam: 7/10

Disc 05: Amsterdam 1928
The Olympic Games, Amsterdam 1928: 7/10

Disc 06: Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936/Berlin 1936
Youth of the World: 6/10
Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations: 6/10
Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty: 6/10

Disc 07: St. Moritz 1948/London 1948
Fight Without Hate: 6/10
XIVth Olympiad: The Glory of Sport: 6/10

Disc 08: Oslo 1952
The VI Olympic Winter Games, Oslo 1952: 6/10

Disc 09: Helsinki 1952
Where the World Meets: 6/10
Gold and Glory: 6/10
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952: 6/10

Disc 10: Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956
White Vertigo: 6/10

Disc 11: Melbourne/Stockholm 1936
Olympic Games, 1956: 6/10
The Melbourne Rendez-vous: 6/10
Alain Mimoun: 6/10
The Horse in Focus: 6/10

Disc 12: Squaw Valley 1960/Rome 1960
People, Hopes, Medals: 6/10
The Grand Olympics: 6/10

Disc 13: Innsbruck 1964
IX Olympic Winter Games, Innsbruck 1964: 6/10

Disc 14: Tokyo 1964
Tokyo Olympiad: 7/10

Disc 15: Tokyo 1964
Sensation of the Century: 7/10

Disc 16: Grenoble 1968
13 Days in France: 6/10
Snows of Grenoble: 6/10

The following average may be updated as I go through the set.

6/10

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. Peter Cowie writes up a nice introduction (and closing) about the relationship between film and the Olympic Games and then provides essays for all of the films in the set. Adrian Wood also writes an incredibly extensive essay on the restoration work, noting some of the bigger challenges that were presented on the massive undertaking, not just limited to tracking down materials. There’s also a short note by the President of the IOC, by Thomas Bach.

There is an annoyance that Criterion hasn’t added any other features, especially since they had released one of the films, Tokyo Olympiad, on DVD previously with an audio commentary and an interview with Kon Ichiwawa. Since that disc is out of print it would have been wonderful if they could have been carried over.

Still, the book is very dense and beautifully put together, filled with great information on the games and the respective films covering them. It’s probably the best book Criterion has put together.

5/10

CLOSING

As I’m making my way through it can be a bit overwhelming but so far this is one of Criterion’s most impressive releases. It’s a wonderful historical document, complete with a comprehensive book on the films and the games, and the set also has the bonus of looking great on the shelf. It’s hefty, with an even heftier price, but those fascinated by the games or documentary filmmaking should look into picking it up.


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