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100 Years of Olympic Films, 29: Nagano 1998/Sydney 2000
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

100 Years of Olympic Films, 29: Nagano 1998/Sydney 2000

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Bud Greenspan, Kieth Merrill
2001 | 278 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 5, 2019

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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

Disc 29 of Criterion’s box set 100 Years of Olympic Films holds three films covering the 1998 Nagano Winter Games and the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. For the Winter Games we get Bud Greenspan’s Nagano ’98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory and Kieth Merrill’s short IMAX film Olympic Glory, and then for the Summer Games we get Greenspan’s Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory. The two Greenspan films are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1 with 1080i/60hz encodes, while the Merrill film is in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a 1080p/24hz encode.

Like the last couple of Greenspan films the two found here come from video sources. The Nagano film looks to have been primarily shot on film (probably 16mm) and then transferred to tape and edited on that format. The Sydney film looks to have been primarily shot on standard-definition video and then edited in the digital realm. Because of this both films are severely limited in the amount of detail they can offer, with the Nagano film looking again like above-average video and the Sydney film looking like an above-average DVD presentation.

Detail is better in the Sydney film, the image looking as sharp as it can (for standard definition), while the Nagano film has a fuzzier video look overall (with some standard-definition footage looking to be stuck in here and there). Both show compression artifacts and jagged edges, along with some ghosting when objects and athletes are moving by quickly on screen. Interlacing is also a bit more obvious in the Nagano film in comparison to the previous two Greenspan films sourced from video, which leads to more obvious trailing.

Both are “fine enough” in the end but they are ultimately limited by the source.

The other Nagano film, Olympic Glory, was filmed for IMAX and it has been restored in 8K from the original 65mm camera negative, and after all of those video sourced Greenspan films it is a sight for soar eyes and is more than likely the best-looking presentation in this set. Some standard-definition footage appears in some window boxes that pop up in the film but on the whole the image is here is razor sharp, delivering every intricate detail from close-ups to long shots. You can make out each individual member of a crowd, you can almost swear you can make out every snowflake in a shot, and the level of texture and depth in every shot can be rather astounding. Colours are absolutely gorgeous, saturated beautifully, and black levels are rich and deep. Film grain is apparent but not all that heavy. The encode is excellent, no obvious artifacts or distortion anywhere. The restoration has also been thorough, nary a blemish showing up The film looks incredible, and it was a nice little breather between those underwhelming video sourced films.

Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory and Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory: 6/10, Olympic Glory: 10/10

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
Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory

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Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory

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Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory

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Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory

Screen Capture
Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory

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Olympic Glory

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Olympic Glory

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Olympic Glory

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Olympic Glory

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Olympic Glory

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Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory

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Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory

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Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory

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Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory

Screen Capture
Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory

AUDIO

The two Greenspan films feature lossless PCM 2.0 stereo surround while the IMAX film features a 5.1 surround track presented in DTS-HD MA. The two stereo tracks are effective enough but the mix is limited. Though some sound effects make it to the rears the audio sticks primarily to the fronts, though spreads out nicely when needed. Quality is strong with no obvious noise or distortion.

Olympic Glory’s 5.1 surround track is one of the more effective ones in the set. The mix aims to put you in the middle of the stadium and/or the events. You get nice “whizzing” effects during some ski shots, and the cheering of the crowd also fills the environment nicely. Music (lifted from then-recent Hollywood blockbusters) also fills it out nicely, with fantastic depth, range, and bass. Audio quality is razor sharp itself, and there is no distortion or noise.

Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory and Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory: 7/10, Olympic Glory: 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. Each film gets its own essay. There are two essays covering the films here, one for each set of Games. For Nagano he admits Greenspan’s style is getting a bit repetitive by this point, though his passion is not less evident. He seems a bit more interest in going over the IMAX film, which was blessed with a bigger budget. For Greenspan’s Sydney film he offers a general overview of its documenting of the Games and the profiles that were captured. (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 two Greenspan films are underwhelming, sourced from video, but the IMAX film Olympic Glory looks astounding and is probably the best looking film in the set.




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