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100 Years of Olympic Films, 24: Seoul 1988
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

100 Years of Olympic Films, 24: Seoul 1988

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Lee Kwang-soo
1989 | 139 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 26, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

Spanning fifty-three movies and forty-one editions of supplement_home_videothe 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

Continuing through Criterion’s 32-disc Blu-ray box set 100 Years of Olympic Films, disc 24 presents Lee Kwang-soo’s Seoul 1988. According to Adrian Wood’s essay in the set’s included book this restoration was done in high-definition, but there are no notes indicating who carried out the picture and sound restorations (on any of the Seoul films) for some reason. It has been encoded on this dual-layer disc in 1080p/24hz, in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Though the image doesn’t come off as crisp and film-like as a newer 2K or 4K restoration could accomplish, the end results here are still nothing to turn one’s nose at. Yes, it does have the look of an older master, grain not being as well managed as it could be, but it is there, and the image is still quite sharp and pleasing throughout. Details are delivered cleanly and distinctly, even in long shots of the stadium, a marked improvement over the previous high-definition restoration in the set, disc 17’s The Olympics in Mexico, where every long shot looked like a mushy mass. It’s not perfect, but it still has a decent enough type of film quality to it.

Having said that I was surprised by the damage that remains and was also a little disappointed in the colours. It does look like restoration work has been done but a lot of finer, peskier bits remain, specifically fine scratches, bits of grit, and faint tram lines, all of which can get a bit heavy on occasion. There are also some frame shifts and jumps that pop up here and there, and it does appear there are a handful of missing frames. The colours look a little washed out, a bit of a shame because this is one of the more colourful looking Games up to this point, the opening ceremony being one of the more ambitious ones. It could be the intended look of course, or a byproduct of the film stock, and my expectations are maybe thrown off because of the vibrant colours in several the other colour films in the set (not counting the yellow tinted ones, of course). I guess I just expected more of a pop than what I got.

Outside of these issues it still ends up being a good presentation. Yes, damage remains and the colours leave a little to be desired, but it is still a very sharp and very clear final image in the end.

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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AUDIO

The audio, presented in lossless PCM 1.0 mono, is probably the worst sounding one in the set. Narration, music, and voices onscreen all come off harsh and edgy. Background noise is also present, and there are audible drops. The audio presentations throughout the set has been dependable, with the early sound films also sounding great, making this one more of a surprise. It’s a bit rough to say the least.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

As mentioned in the other articles on this set 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 is also filled with photos from the various events. Cowie writes one essay for all three films in this set that cover the Seoul ’88 Games, looking at the differing styles and how each respective filmmaker chronicles the Games. He also covers some details about the events, along with controversies that came up. (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

It’s obviously an older restoration, with some disappointing colours and a lot of scratches and grit remaining, but the image is still sharp and detailed in the end.




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Purchase From:
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