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100 Years of Olympic Films, 12: Squaw Valley/Rome, 1960
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • Italian PCM Mono
  • German PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

100 Years of Olympic Films, 12: Squaw Valley/Rome, 1960

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Heribert Meisel, Romolo Marcellini
2017 | 240 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: January 7, 2018

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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

Moving on to disc 12 in Criterion’s 100 Years of Olympic Films box set, Criterion presents two films covering the 1960 Games: Heribert Meisel’s People, Hopes, Medals focusing on the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, and Romolo Marcellini’s The Grand Olympics, about the Summer Games in Rome. Grand Olympics is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 while People is presented in 1.37:1. Both have been given new 1080p/24hz high-definition encodes. Both come from either new 2K or 4K restorations.

In terms of digital presentations both look very good, keeping a filmic texture thanks to the clean rendering of the grain in both films. Neither present any noise or obvious digital problems, and are as clean and as smooth as one could hope. Unfortunately each is weakened but one aspect of their final presentation.

People, Hopes, Medals looks to come from a later generation print and this ends up keeping it from what it could have been. Colours look generally good and are very pleasing, especially blues of the skies, while whites look clean and are bright without wiping out detail, important because of the snowy landscape. But the image is very soft and fuzzy throughout, making it look like this has been sourced from a copy of a copy of a copy. Still, the team behind these restorations were obviously limited by what they had and when all is said and done they’ve still pulled off an impressive job.

The Grand Olympics is significantly better in the detail department, offering a far sharper image in comparison. The details found in the longshots of the Roman architecture during the opening (and scattered throughout the rest of the film) are especially striking. What throws this one off is that it has a heavy yellow tint to it, similar to White Vertigo on disc 10. Like White Vertigo this leads to some off black levels, though in fairness they are not as milky here as they are in that previous film. This is a bit of a shame because just about every other aspect of the image, from cleanliness of the grain to the sharp detail to the extraordinarily clean looking print, is quite jaw dropping.

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.

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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People, Hopes, Medals

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

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The Grand Olympics

AUDIO

Both films offer decent if unspectacular lossless PCM 1.0 monaural presentations. Dialogue sounds clean, music is decent, and neither show any severe instances of damage or noise. People, Hopes, Medals is presented in German while The Grand Olympics are presented in Italian.

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 two essays in the book, one for each film, though seems more impressed with Marcellini’s film. He also mentions that there is an English version of People, Hopes, Medals though mentions it is now lost. (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

Both films get excellent looking encodes and look very film-like in the end, but a dupey quality to People, Hopes, Medals and the odd yellow tint found in The Grand Olympics harm the final presentations.




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