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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

100 Years of Olympic Films

The Criterion Collection presents the Deluxe Blu-ray and DVD collector's sets of 100 Years of Olympic Films, which will include 53 films and a 216-page illustrated book. The collection features landmark work by noted filmmakers Kon Ichikawa, Bud Greenspan, Milos Forman, Leni Reifenstahl, Claude Lelouch, Masahiro Shinoda and many more! But don't get too excited just yet, because the release date isn't until December 5, 2017. Of course, you can always pre-order.

Criterion's upcoming release of 100 Years of Olympic Films is a ginormous retrospective of collected works of forty-one editions of the Olympic Summer and Winter Games, all assembled for the first time documenting a century's worth of Olympic films. This package completes the culmination of a monumental, award-winning archival project encompassing dozens of new restorations by the International Olympic Committee in celebration of the centennial of the "modern" Olympics.

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". Heroic moments include Jesse Owens shattering sprinting world records on the track in 1936 Berlin while Adolf Hitler watched with great disdain. Of course, there's also the sight of Jean Claude-Killy dominating the slopes of Grenoble in 1968, and 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 infamous Olympia and Kon Ichikawa's Tokyo Olympiad, along with lesser- known but captivating contributions by major directors like Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, and Academy Award winning director, Milos Forman (Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest ). It also serves as a fascinating window onto the formal development of cinema itself, documenting 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.

The special edition collector's sets feature newly restored films, presented together for the first time in 4K. In addition, new scores have been completed for the silent films, composed by renown artists Maud Nelissen, Donald Sosin, and Frido ter Beek. The lavishly illustrated, 216-page hardcover book features notes on the films by cinema historian Peter Cowie, which includes a foreword by Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee. And for the film history fanatic there's also a short history of the restoration project by restoration producer Adrian Wood, and the book features hundreds of photographs from a century of the Olympic Games. Truly, an impressive endeavor to show the history of the games in their best light. If only all historical compilations were treated with such care. But then, we are talking about Criterion.


Stockholm 1912

The Games of the V Olympiad Stockholm, 1912 (dir. Adrian Wood)

Berlin 1936

Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (dir. Leni Riefenstahl)

Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty (dir. Leni Riefenstahl)

Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956

White Vertigo (dir. Giorgio Ferroni)

Tokyo 1964

Tokyo Olympiad (dir. Kon Ichikawa)

Grenoble 1968

13 Days in France (dirs. Claude Lelouch, François Reichenbach)

Sapporo 1972

Sapporo Winter Olympics (dir. Masahiro Shinoda)

Munich 1972

Visions of Eight (dirs. Milos Forman, Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, Yuri Ozerov, Arthur Penn, Michael Pfleghar, John Schlesinger, Mai Zetterling)

Barcelona 1992

Marathon (dir. Carlos Saura)

Beijing 2008

The Everlasting Flame (dir. Gu Jun)

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