900 100 Years of Olympic Films

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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peoriashows
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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#151 Post by peoriashows » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:26 pm

My copy finally arrived and sifting through the book, I noticed a recurring theme: Americans seem to know how to drop the ball when it comes to Olympic films.

The 1904 St. Louis games have no film. I can forgive this because film was still in its infancy, but considering it was staged in conjuction with the 1904 World's Fair of which film footage exists, one might think they may have found something with Olympic coverage.

The 1932 Lake Placid games are not inclued. There was a film made, but all copies were lost and have yet to be recovered.

The 1932 L.A. games have an identical story as Lake Placid and also have no film in the box set.

The 1960 Squaw Valley film is a German production included as the official Olympic film because the American film has also been lost.

The official 1980 Lake Placid film is simply a half hour promotional recap funded by Coca-Cola and featuring a great deal of dated disco music because the organizers didn't sanction a proper feature length film.

It's not till we get to the 1984 L.A. games that a proper American Olympic documentary gets included in the box.

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Ribs
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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#152 Post by Ribs » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:25 pm

Blu-ray

Giving this set a perfect score for extras is a bit rich, especially seeing as he’s arbitrarily determined some of the main features count as bonus features because they’re not long enough.

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tenia
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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#153 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:23 am

He didnt even took the time to wrige which ones he exactly consider to be extras and on which discs they are situated.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#154 Post by CriterionPhreak » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:54 am

peoriashows wrote:My copy finally arrived and sifting through the book, I noticed a recurring theme: Americans seem to know how to drop the ball when it comes to Olympic films.

The 1904 St. Louis games have no film. I can forgive this because film was still in its infancy, but considering it was staged in conjuction with the 1904 World's Fair of which film footage exists, one might think they may have found something with Olympic coverage.

The 1932 Lake Placid games are not inclued. There was a film made, but all copies were lost and have yet to be recovered.

The 1932 L.A. games have an identical story as Lake Placid and also have no film in the box set.

The 1960 Squaw Valley film is a German production included as the official Olympic film because the American film has also been lost.

The official 1980 Lake Placid film is simply a half hour promotional recap funded by Coca-Cola and featuring a great deal of dated disco music because the organizers didn't sanction a proper feature length film.

It's not till we get to the 1984 L.A. games that a proper American Olympic documentary gets included in the box.
Also regrettable is that the included book totally omits the games for which films are missing, i.e. there is no writing, not even a photo, for the 1932 Lake Placid and LA games to give us a sense of what they were like. There are some interesting things about them, such as the first ever Olympian from China competed in '32 LA.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#155 Post by omgkitty » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:57 am

So the blu-ray set is supposed to contain all blu-rays correct? Been reading over some reviews and it appears the first disc in my set is a DVD and not a blu-ray #-o

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#156 Post by cdnchris » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:06 pm

Yep, they're all Blu-rays. I'm sure if you contact them Criterion will swap the disc for you.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#157 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:06 pm

I kicked off watching this with White Rock, about the '76 Winter Games- and it's intensely weird. A lot of it is near abstract footage of the intensity and beauty of sports- the incredible speed of the downhill events, the force and precision of figure skating, the power of the way a hockey player can sprint backwards on skates- but the throughline, for some reason, is James Coburn. He participates in some things, and stands in the sidelines for others, but more or less every event is bracketed by him explaining how butch each sport actually is, and how incredibly ballsy all these dudes are for doing them. There are literally two segments in the whole movie in which the fact that women participate in the Olympics comes up- a segment about pairs figure skating, and a very brief mention of an extraordinarily dominant first time appearance by an East German skier- but otherwise this is a movie about James Coburn, manly man, watching men do manly things.
Last edited by matrixschmatrix on Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#158 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:04 am

It is interesting to hear Coburn narrated that 1976 documentary (as well appearing as himself in a documentary about motor racing also directed by Tony Maylam the following year - 1977's Speed Fever). Maybe that was the reason why he appeared in the spectacularly ill timed and ill fated film Goldengirl a couple of years later, as Susan Anton's agent! Perhaps he was doing research, or wanted to balance out the lack of female presence in White Rock!

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#159 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:05 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:...this is a movie about James Coburn, manly man, watching men do manly things.
So worth the price alone?

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#160 Post by CriterionPhreak » Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:55 pm

Here is an unboxing and review video. The unboxing reveals some loose disc issues. The review is mostly on the packaging and the box.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#161 Post by peoriashows » Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:31 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:I kicked off watching this with White Rock, about the '76 Winter Games- and it's intensely weird. A lot of it is near abstract footage of the intensity and beauty of sports- the incredible speed of the downhill events, the force and precision of figure skating, the power of the way a hockey player can sprint backwards on skates- but the throughline, for some reason, is James Coburn. He participates in some things, and stands in the sidelines for others, but more or less every event is bracketed by him explaining how butch each sport actually is, and how incredibly ballsy all these dudes are for doing them. There are literally two segments in the whole movie in which the fact that women participate in the Olympics comes up- a segment about pairs figure skating, and a very brief mention of an extraordinarily dominant first time appearance by an East German skier- but otherwise this is a movie about James Coburn, manly man, watching men do manly things.
Yes, White Rock is among my favorite Olympic films for its sheer strangeness. I've already it, so I was saving it for last since I wanted to focus on films I haven't yet seen from this box set.

I believe White Rock was a product of its time. The 70s were full of strange documentaries about the likes of Bigfoot, alien lifeforms and paranormal activities mostly perpetuated by Sunn Classic films. Long before Youtube, The History Channel and The Discovery Channel, the general public had to go to the theater to get their fill of pseudo-science nonsense. I believe Tony Maylam was inspired by this form of documentary film making when he made White Rock, giving strange, almost alien sports like bobsled and ski jumping a mythical "is it real or made up?" vibe. It wouldn't take much imagination to see White Rock as a 2-part episode of In Search Of

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#162 Post by peoriashows » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:03 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:
matrixschmatrix wrote:...this is a movie about James Coburn, manly man, watching men do manly things.
So worth the price alone?
Absolutely! Ha!

This set is such a great history lesson in the evolution of, not only documentary filmmaking, but also the sports that are being filmed. I just watched The White Stadium and Youth of The World and it's very revealing seeing some of the amazing crane and tracking shots I would not have thought possible at the time, or certainly very difficult given the weight and bulk of the camer equipment of the era. Similarly it's amazing seeing how far the bob sled technology advanced in just 8 years between 1928 in St. Moritz and 1936 in Garmisch. Bobsled is an Olympic sport more reliant on research & technology than perhaps any other. Also, very interesting, almost shocking, to see is the cross country skiers coming to a complete stop at the refreshment station to drink water, cups of coffee (or maybe tea) and eat some chicken before continuing on the race, something entirely unheard of this day in the sport, where every second of race time matters.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#163 Post by peoriashows » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:34 pm

...I also have to wonder if some of the shots in Youth of The World are some early examples of the live re-reenactments that Leni Riefenstahl would later be so famously criticized for. The book mentions that Carl Junghans worked for the ministry of propaganda and was an influence on Riefenstahl who later served as a photographer on Olympia. The extreme close-ups of the cross country skiers during the races and (more obvious) of Adolf Hitler enjoying the Ski jumping finale look highly suspect and out of place.

The brief segment at the end documenting the closing ceremonies with Nazi soldiers holding hand held flames during a fireworks display while menacing music plays is an eerily prophetic image of the Hell that the world would soon be going through during WWII.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#164 Post by peoriashows » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:22 pm

CriterionPhreak wrote:Here is an unboxing and review video. The unboxing reveals some loose disc issues. The review is mostly on the packaging and the...
That was an entertaining and informative review. I would also give it a gold medal for the book and films, but it gets a Lead metal for extras. I have to admit I'm extremely disappointed in the lack of commentary tracks and film maker interviews. There are enough Bud Greenspan interviews out there alone to fill a whole disc, they could have added some to the set. I'm also confused at how they picked multiple films for some of the games and only a single film for others

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#165 Post by peoriashows » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:17 pm

Ribs wrote:Went on to The Melbourne Rendez-vouz, which was substantially less exciting. It’s basically just an extended newsreel, with that same type of corny non-humor in its overpresent narration.....
Wait until you get to 1948 St. Moritz and 1952 Oslo. They're as dry and pedestrian as any newsreel footage. St. Moritz has a ridiculously sexist subplot shoe-horned in for humor where the narrator man-splains a bunch of stuff to his wife who gets bored and leaves with another fake reporter, leaving the narrator to worry if they're having an affair for the second half of the film. It's a sign of the time, I guess, but it's hard to imagine this sort of corny humor didn't fall flat on its face even in 1948. The Oslo narrator speaks quickly and almost non stop, sounding like a monotone radio announcer and causing any viewer who doesn't speak Norwegian to spend almost the entire film (save for the slow motion moments) reading the subtitles and missing all the action.

White Vertigo, the official film of the 1956 Cortina winter games, though, is a welcome break! It's the first chronological color film and it is magnificent! The colors are vibrant and the visuals are stunning! The narrator doesn't remove the viewer much from the action and the filmmaker spends a good amount of time showing what happens off the course. In fact I found the scenes of preparation and the athletes' rest & relaxation between events almost more interesting than the actual events. The use of sound and intentional juxtaposition of different sporting events, as diverse as the people of the world who competed in them, is terrific. I would say White Vertigo stands up with Olympia, Tokyo Olympiad and Visions of Eight as one of premier Olympic films in this box set. It's quite a remarkable restoration.

I've been watching more of the winter films than summer since the 2018 games are coming up.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#166 Post by tenia » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:02 pm

Reading Chris' reviews, the color-gradings of some of the color movies look like again some Bologna sole available DUT table grading. Some more yellowish movies with milky blacks ? When will this ever stop ? ](*,)
Compare movies like White Rock, Visions of Eight and 16 Days of Glory (or even Tokyo Olympiad) with White Vertigo.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#167 Post by Ribs » Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:47 pm

16 Days of Glory is just plain tremendous, a huge undertaking obviously due to its super-sized director's cut status but one that kept me totally rapt. I was actually surprised it was shot on film - I was under the impression based on what the IOC put on Youtube that I skipped around on that all of the Greenspan films were SD video but a review of the original description seems to say it's just those from '92 on (probably back to HD for the 2010 games?) so the fact it was in gorgeous HD for all five hours really surprised me. But I can already see myself putting this on in the background for many years to come, and I can't wait to see the other Greenspan films that emulate it.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#168 Post by movielocke » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:18 am

According to the book the Lillehammer games were the last games shot on film for the official Olympic film

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tenia
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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#169 Post by tenia » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:32 am

It seems that the movies have restoration credits as part of their end credits.
Guess what : the very yellow White Vertigo (disc 10) indeed was restored and graded by L'immagine Ritrovata. \:D/
On disc 12, Rome 60 - The Grand Olympics is another Ritrovata restoration.

Done by Warner MPI :
Disc 12 : Squaw Valley 60 - People, Hopes, Medals
Disc 13 : Innsbruck 1964
Disc 14 : Tokyo Olympiad (scanned at Imagica, Tokyo)
Disc 18 : Sapporo 72 and Munich 72 - Visions of Eight
Disc 19 : White Rock and Montreal 76

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#170 Post by nissling » Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:16 am

peoriashows wrote:The 1904 St. Louis games have no film. I can forgive this because film was still in its infancy, but considering it was staged in conjuction with the 1904 World's Fair of which film footage exists, one might think they may have found something with Olympic coverage.
Should be noted though that box is focusing on the Olympic games from 1912 to 2012, and thus 1904 nor 2014 aren't to be included. Still it would be nice to see some of this footage for sure.

I love this set. Don't care for olympics at all but this could very well be my favorite box set in my entire collection, ranging all the way back to DiscoVision.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#171 Post by movielocke » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:17 pm

The book is fairly clear this is a collection of officially commissioned olympics films, not an overview of olympics without them. The first commissioned was 1912, and the 1932 films are lost.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#172 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:08 am

Just started watching White Rock. Had no idea Rick Wakeman did the score. This wasn't the director's first dalliance with prog either, as later in '76 he filmed a Genesis concert which was released theatrically the following year.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#173 Post by Ribs » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:22 am

I adore the look of Games of the XXI Olympiad; the actual film itself is alright but the decision (consciously or unconsciously?) to shoot for almost the entire length on handheld cameras or at least someting approximating that gives it a really different, kinetic vibe really putting you on the field(s), throwing away the remove you might feel from some of the more heavily composed entries in this set. I also *love* that basic disconnect of the French dub over the English, at the very end of the film, as they ask Bruce Jenner how winning makes him feel, and he smiles before saying a wry remark, only we don't hear him complete it as an omniscient French voice then cuts in to repeat it flatly and we read it along in subtitles. Also very refreshing that the film starts with the marathon, when most of these films have decided for that as its final note (this returns to it at the end, but it felt interesting all the same (similarly, quite a few of the Winter films seem to arbitrarily choose to end with the ski jump)). Fantastic score too.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#174 Post by Chief Brody » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:35 pm

My first post on this forum:

In time for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, I just finished the entire box set in almost a month and a half. This will be a series of films I will treasure. The films are not just a journey through sport, but also a journey through 100 years of narrative and cinematic styles.

If I had the space (and the time) I could speak about each film on its own merits. However, my brain is a little bit overloaded with Olympic films at the moment. So for now I will say...highly recommended.

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Re: 900 100 Years of Olympic Films

#175 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:12 pm

Would love it if you could elaborate somewhere down the line!

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