Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tokyo Olympiad

Tokyo Olympiad (Kon Ichikawa, 1965) [8]

With the Olympics now becoming such a media saturated and commercial highlight reel, it's incredibly refreshing to see this film, which treats the games and the games themselves, are treated as something more reserved than the bloated spectacle it now has become. If someone wanted to do what Ichikawa did for the games in Bejing next year, it would be on deaf ears. Any artistry that were in the Olympics have long been replaced by cheating, professionals, and massive capitalism. This film shows the games as what they're original intention was: as pure sport. Ichikawa isn't focused on winners or losers; sometimes the winner of the event covered is never even mentioned. Missing that doesn't really matter here as the power of the images on the screen trumped individual achievement and medal counts. There are moments here of pure gold in terms of images in all their CinemaScope glory. The Criterion transfer, as always, is flawless. While the images stand on their own, Ichikawa also has an underlying story of how the Olympics are the true bastion of peace for the world, being especially sure to mention the games that were cancelled by war. Tokyo Olympiad is a true celebration of the positive competitive nature of humanity, win or lose. The images find all the right things: the kinetic energy of the 100 meter dash, the pure artistry of gymnasts, and in the film's greatest strength, the psychical and mental agony of running a marathon. The only thing that brings this film down (just slightly) is the manic narration. It's just not necessary with the craftsmanship the images show.

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