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100 Years of Olympic Films, 04: Amsterdam 1928
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
    New Score

100 Years of Olympic Films, 04: Amsterdam 1928

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By:
2017 | 251 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 15, 2017

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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 fourth dual-layer disc of Criterion’s massive box set 100 Years of Olympic Films presents The IX Olympiad in Amsterdam (which has no credited director), the Italian edited version of the film covering the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. It is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and has been given a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. I didn’t see any specific notes on this restoration by in his accompanying notes in the included book Adrian Wood states that all pre-1992 films in the set, other than two (Mexico City and Seoul), were restored in 2K or 4K resolution.

This film has one of the more interesting histories of the films in the set. After a contract with a Dutch film company fell through Italian film company Istituto Luce was hired by the Dutch government to film the Amsterdam Olympics but controversy swelled around this and distributors refused to screen the film since Luce was, of course, a propaganda tool for Italy’s fascist regime. Though Luce completed the film the Dutch government took the footage and then commissioned another version.

Considering this bit of history I figured this film would more than likely not have held up over the years but that’s not at all the case as the film looks rather extraordinary and even looks, I’d say, significantly better than the second version of the film, which is included on the next disc. In terms of source there are only a few minor marks remaining, a few tram lines popping in places probably being the most significant bits of damage remaining. The image is otherwise just about spotless and you have to be really looking for any marks to notice them. There may be some missing frames, though in fairness it does look like at least some of these may be jump cuts that have been inserted to speed up some of the events.

The digital presentation itself is another wonderful aspect, sharp with wonderful grain rendering. Though some footage can look to be a bit out of focus the amount of detail in the image and the long shots in this film are probably the best and sharpest looking ones out of all the silent films in the set, shots of the field during races and other tournaments really delivering the textures wonderfully. Contrast is great and tonal shifts in the grays are smooth and natural. In all it’s another wonderful surprise to this set and another impressive restoration.

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.

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AUDIO

A silent film Criterion does include a new score created by Maud and Bart Nelissen, presented in lossless PCM 2.0 stereo. It sounds clean and clear, and presents some lower effects but is otherwise a serviceable silent film score. It fills out the environment nicely with nice panning and movement between the speakers. It also don’t come off distorted or harsh and has a good amount of range and fidelity to it.

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 writes an essay covering the 1928 games, with comments about this film and the Dutch version found on disc 5, noting the reason why two lengthier films exist. (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

Despite the film’s history it ends up being one of the better looking silent features on the set, with only a few minor marks remaining. It’s a really great looking restoration.




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Purchase From:
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