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100 Years of Olympic Films, 31: Torino 2006/Beijing 2008
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
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100 Years of Olympic Films, 31: Torino 2006/Beijing 2008

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Bud Greenspan, Gu Jun
2010 | 189 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: March 6, 2019

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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

Disc 31, another dual-layer disc and the second to last disc in Criterionís mammoth box set, 100 Years of Olympic Films, presents two more films: Bud Greenspanís Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Gold, directed by (as the title suggests) Bud Greenspan and covering (as the title also suggests) the Torino 2006 Winter Games; and Gu Junís The Everlasting Flame, covering the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. Greenspanís film is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a 1080i/60hz encode, and Junís film is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode.

Like the last couple of films from Greenspan this one was also made for television (like the others it opens with a Showtime logo) and the entire thing looks to have been filmed in standard-definition digital. This means, at best, we will get what is ultimately just a good standard-definition presentation and thatís what we get. The quality can vary from shot to shot (and I assume it is related to the equipment used) but most of the film looks fine. Itís pretty sharp, detail is decent, and colours look nice. Thereís still obvious compression, mild jagged edges pop up, along with some shimmering, and fast-moving sequences have some obvious trailing. The lower quality footage just amps up all of these issues, with obvious interlacing being a real issue, making those jagged edges and ghosting effects even worse.

Again, ďit is what it is.Ē

Junís film offers a nice breath of fresh air after what feels like an endless number of Greenspanís films, both in terms of the type of film it is (which has loftier goals) and its end presentation. This film was shot in high-definition and it was nice to yet again get a clear image on my screen again. Thatís not to say itís not without problems: the technology at the time is still limited and there are still plenty of obvious artifacts laced throughout. Banding is immediately noticeable during the opening shot of a rising sun and this artifact pops up on many other occasions throughout the film. Mild jagged edges also appear on a few straight lines that go horizontally across the screen (the lines on the track being where this is usually noticeable), and there is some faint trailing with some quick movements. Some darker shots throughout (though oddly not during the elaborate opening ceremony) also look noisier in comparison to other moments of the film, and this more than likely just comes down to the camera having trouble with low lighting. Iím positive this is all inherent to the original digital files and has nothing to do with the encode.

Still, the overall image is very crisp and sharp, details is superb throughout, even the crowds in the distance managing to looks sharp and clear. The opening ceremony, which as most will remember was incredibly elaborate, looks spectacular here: busy and colourful, every little detail popping.

In the end both, in different ways, are limited by their source materials, but The Everlasting Flame comes off looking pretty sharp.

Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories ofOlympic Glory: 6/10, The Everlasting Flame: 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.

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

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The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

Screen Capture
The Everlasting Flame

AUDIO

Greenspanís film, made for television, has a fairly simple lossless PCM 2.0 stereo surround presentation. Itís sharp and clear, but the mix is pretty tame, with most everything focused to the fronts.

The Everlasting Flame, on the other hand, has a far more aggressive mix, delivered here in DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround. The more personal moments in the film focus most everything to the fronts while music spreads out nicely between all of the speakers. But it also manages to spread sound effects and noises from the crowds to the rears, with distinct direction. Echoes from the indoor events spread nicely, placing you there, and you get to hear cheers (and occasional heckles) from the crowd around you as well. Some events, like the weight lifting one, present far clearer, more distinct effects from the rears, where you can hear (who I assume to be a coach or acquaintance yelling to the athlete) to the left. You also hear other background noises behind you during events back there. The opening ceremony also yields an impressive mix, and the explosions from the fireworks during the closing ceremony sound to be coming from above you. Itís a really strong mix and it is delivered wonderfully, with excellent fidelity and range.

Bud Greenspan's Torino 2006: Stories ofOlympic Glory: 7/10, The Everlasting Flame: 9/10

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. Again, each film receives its own essay, the one for the Beijing Games being the lengthier one. He talks about the film, the events, and (not surprisingly) the ambitious opening ceremony put together by the filmmaker Zhang Yimou. (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

Yet another okay standard-definition upscale with Greenspanís film covering the Torino games, but Junís film, shot in high-definition digital, ends up being a welcome sight for sore eyes, finally delivering the details again.




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