Home Page  
 
 

100 Years of Olympic Films, 03: St. Moritz 1928
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
    New Score

100 Years of Olympic Films, 03: St. Moritz 1928

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Arnold Fanck, Othmar Gurtner
2017 | 124 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: December 12, 2017

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

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

The third disc in Criterion’s box set 100 Years of Olympic Films features one film covering the Winter Games of 1928 in St. Moritz, The White Stadium, directed by Arnold Fanck and Othmar Gurtner. The film is presented on a dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. I couldn’t find any information specific to this restoration but all but two of the films (for Mexico City and Seoul) up to 1992 in the set have been restored in 2K or 4K resolution. The notes that open the film do mention that the film was actually thought lost and was constructed using elements found in Austria, Germany, Russia, and Switzerland. It also recreates some of the intertitles based on documentation that was discovered.

This film differs a great deal from the films that came previously, inserting shots to increase the action (like cutting to a hand holding a stop watch during timed events), breaking away from the events to showcase the local town and its residents, and providing establishing shots for the setting, capturing the hilly, snowy landscape in great detail. I admit to getting a bit frustrated in regards to the lengthy opening and its endless nature shots, in my head crying a Monty Python-esque “get on with it!” but the photography is gorgeous and the astounding restoration given to this film does it justice. Though some later films in this set (I’m now on disc 8!) do also provide superb video presentations, up to this point this is easily the best one. I was most surprised by how clean the source materials appear to be. Damage isn’t all that bad with only few minor scratches, marks, and pulses popping up every once in a while, along with some missing frames, but on the whole it’s not all that frequent when you can pick out a mark.

I was also surprised at the level of detail in the film. Some shots look a little out of focus but outside of that the image is quite sharp, close-ups exposing creases on a face or thread on a scarf or cut in the ice or footprint in the snow, it’s most always crystal clear. Film grain looks ridiculously good, too, further showing the hands-off approach that everyone has taken in regards to digital tinkering while restoring these films (Adrian Wood, in his essay, does state noise reduction was done minimally to avoid a “video” look).

White levels are nicely balanced so they don’t bloom or wipe out details: as mentioned before you can make out footprints in the snow along with tracks and dips in the snowy landscape. Contrast is also pretty good but there are a few sequences where darker objects, like someone wearing a black outfit, get crushed out over the bright white backdrop, but I suspect this is a byproduct from shooting with that bright background and is inherent to the film. Outside of these moments, though, shifts in the gray levels are smooth and natural.

And, unsurprisingly, the digital presentation is superb. It doesn’t present any noise or digital artifacts, and keeps grain clean. Overall it’s another knockout of a presentation and again exceeding anything that I could have expected, especially when you consider the film was thought to have been lost and constructed from what could be found across four countries. Really striking.

8/10

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.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

Like all of the films before this one in the set it is also silent but presents a new score and effects provided by Frido ter Beer and Yamila Bavio and presented in lossless PCM 2.0 stereo. Since the track is new it is unsurprisingly very crisp and clean with no distortion or background noise. It fills out the environment nicely and has some surprising range to it. As far as silent film scores go it doesn’t do anything I thought was too surprising but it complements the film nicely.

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. Cowie’s essay on the film goes over some of the notable events to happen and talks about the film as a step up in terms of editing and montage for the Olympic films. (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

One of the bigger surprises of this set so far, The White Stadium comes with a crisp and clean video presentation, one of the more impressive I’ve seen for a silent film.




Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca