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100 Years of Olympic Films, 17: Mexico City, 1968
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.39:1 Widescreen
  • Spanish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

100 Years of Olympic Films, 17: Mexico City, 1968

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Alberto Isaac
2017 | 160 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: February 19, 2018

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SYNOPSIS

Spanning fifty-three movies and forty-one editions of the Olympic Games, 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912Ė2012 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 ďFaster, Higher, StrongerĒ: 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 Gamesí first womenís 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 Riefenstahlís Olympia and Kon Ichikawaís Tokyo Olympiad, along with captivating lesser-known works by major directors like Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, and Miloö 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

Now past the half way mark of Criterionís 32-disc 100 Years of Olympic Films box set, disc 17 presents Alberto Isaacís The Olympics in Mexico on this dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It has been encoded at 1080p/24hz.

Up to this point all of the previous films in this set have sported impressive, mostly film-like high-definition presentations, all sourced from 2K or 4K restorations. Most of these films have looked spectacular and the weaker presentations, at worst, were limited by their source materials, either because damage was too severe or they were transferred from later generation sources that were ultimately blurrier than what a negative, or even a direct copy of the negative, would have delivered. But at the very least they have all retained a less processed, more filmic look, free of digital anomalies and looking superb in motion.

Unfortunately that streak ends with The Olympics in Mexico and is the oddity of the set up to my current point in it (Iím actually about to start disc 24 at the time of this writing). Adrian Woodís notes mention that this film (and the films on disc 24 and 25) all come from high-definition restorations as opposed to 2K or 4K. Going in I figured this meant weíre getting an older restoration, the film not receiving a new one for some reason, which is fine, but this one looks quite old, and I would almost suspect this was made more for a DVD release back in the day. Though it appears that whoever did work on this decided not to go nuts on the noise-reduction knob film grain looks more compressed and messier here in comparison to the smooth grain rendering weíve been getting with most of the previous films. Itís passable, ultimately, but darker shots and scenes end up coming off noisy. This presentation also has problems with tighter patterns or fine lines that are too close together, creating shimmering effects on screen. These issues ultimately lead to a far more digital looking image than the filmic ones we have been getting.

This probably also contributes to the lack of detail visible in the image. Close-ups are serviceable enough but long shots are particularly flat, long shots of the stadium field just delivering a flat green mesh. Long shots in general fail to deliver the tighter details, though itís actually hard to determine if itís a source issue or something related to the scan or restoration work.

And speaking of the restoration work it is certainly not as thorough as other films. Some of the previous films still presented visible damage, some of the older films showing bigger problems that just canít be fixed, but ultimately you could tell a lot of work had gone into them. This one has had some work done but it appears to be limited, and there are still a number of small marks and tram lines present. At the very least, though, the colours do look nice, with some sharp greens and reds.

Iím not sure why this film (and now Iím suspecting the 1988 Seoul films) didnít receive all-new restorations. Maybe it was deemed not to be worth it or that they were good enough, or maybe they had trouble getting their hands on the elements to make new ones, which is certainly in the realm of possibility Still, even taking those likelihoods into account, after going through something like 28-films up to this point, all with superb digital presentations, the flaws of this one just stand out more. Itís disappointing.

6/10

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

Presented in lossless linear PCM, the Spanish monaural soundtrack also doesnít sound to have received the same attention as other films. Though the narration is easy to hear and music strives for some depth, the track is still a bit edgier than most of the others and there is some noticeable background noise in the background. Outside of that, though, thereís no severe problems impeding things.

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. For this essay Cowie covers the filmís director, Alberto Isaac, from his athletic past (ha had competed in past Summer Games) to his move to filmmaking, and how this experience plays into his coverage of the games. (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

After 16 discs of being blown away by just about every restoration and final presentation, The Olympics in Mexico falls a bit short with what is obviously an older restoration. Itís still watchable but after being spoiled with what really are sharp, filmic presentations (even when the source was still limited), one after the other, its problems become far more obvious. A bit disappointing a newer scan and restoration couldnít be done.




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