About once a year, the Criterion Collection puts out a massive collection of films or art from cinephiles like me to enjoy. “100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912–2012” features 53 films beautifully restored in 4K. Watch the trailer above:
Spanning fifty-three movies and forty-one editions of the Olympic Summer and Winter Games, Criterion’s upcoming, one-of-a-kind 100 YEARS OF OLYMPIC FILMS 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 Milos 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.
“100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912–2012” comes out on December 5 on Blu-ray and DVD from the Criterion Collection.