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100 Years of Olympic Films, 09: Helsinki 1952
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • Finnish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

100 Years of Olympic Films, 09: Helsinki 1952

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Hannu Leminen
2017 | 248 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 25, 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 ninth dual-layer disc in Criterion’s 100 Years of Olympic Films box set covers the 1952 Helsinki games, presenting three films: Hannu Leminen’s Where the World Meets and Gold and Glory, and then Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952, director unknown. All three films are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and have been encoded at 1080p/24hz. There were no specific notes on the restorations of these films, but Wood did write that all films before and up to 1992 (other than the ones for Mexico City and Seoul) were restored at 2K or 4K resolution.

The two black-and-white films, both directed by Leminen, have a very similar look. In comparison to the other black-and-white films in the set they are each noticeably darker and also not nearly as sharp as some of the better presentations, with a few sequences coming off quite blurry. It’s possible some of these less detailed sequences are related to shooting conditions. The source materials also show a bit more wear with some fluctuations and pulses popping up, along with the occasional frame shift. Outside of that I didn’t notice much more in the ways of damage, just a few little marks.

Memories is the lone colour film on the disc. The colour presentation is good with beautifully saturated greens, reds, and blues as well as accurate looking flesh tones. It also has clean whites and fairly deep blacks with excellent shadow detail. Like the other two films on the disc the footage can vary in clarity, with most of it looking pretty sharp and highly detailed mixed in with a handful of blurry sequences, but again it could be shooting conditions or even the use of different film stock.

I didn’t detect any digital artifacts during any of the films and film grain is present, looking really nice overall. In the end the source materials hold things back a little bit but the restoration work is still very impressive and they have been encoded beautifully.

Memories: 8/10, Other films: 7/10

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
Where the World Meets

Screen Capture
Where the World Meets

Screen Capture
Where the World Meets

Screen Capture
Where the World Meets

Screen Capture
Where the World Meets

Screen Capture
Where the World Meets

Screen Capture
Where the World Meets

Screen Capture
Gold and Glory

Screen Capture
Gold and Glory

Screen Capture
Gold and Glory

Screen Capture
Gold and Glory

Screen Capture
Gold and Glory

Screen Capture
Gold and Glory

Screen Capture
Gold and Glory

Screen Capture
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952

Screen Capture
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952

Screen Capture
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952

Screen Capture
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952

Screen Capture
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952

Screen Capture
Memories of the Olympic Summer of 1952

AUDIO

The audio for all three films (all in lossless PCM 1.0 mono) are a product of their age. The narration for the black and white films can sound a wee-bit distorted in comparison to Memories but all three aren’t particularly dynamic or all that crisp to begin with. Still, no severe damage, drops, or pops are present.

6/10

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 provides a lengthier essay to cover all three films and these Games, first explaining how Helsinki came to host the events in 1952 with a smattering about some of the events. He also writes about the individual films, going over some of director Leminen’s previous works. Interestingly he actually seems to prefer the shorter colour film and the footage it provides. (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

The films here can show a few more problems than some of the other films in the set but the end results are still very impressive, the high level of work going into these restorations still being very evident.




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