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100 Years of Olympic Films, 08: Oslo 1952
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Norwegian PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

100 Years of Olympic Films, 08: Oslo 1952

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Castleton Knight, Tancred Ibsen
2017 | 103 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: December 19, 2017

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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

The eighth dual-layer disc in Criterion’s 100 Years of Olympic Films box set presents one film covering the 1952 Oslo Winter Games, the on-the-nose title The VI Olympic Winter Games, Oslo 1952, directed by Tancred Ibsen. It is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and has been given a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. Again there are no in-depth notes about this films restoration but it was either completed in 2K or 4K resolution.

By this point it’s obvious I was way off in my initial suspicions that these restorations were going to be mostly “fine enough” with more care being put into the more “prestigious” pictures in the set. The reality is that each restoration and final presentation in this set has received the same level of love and attention that the most renowned films, like Olympia, have received. The presentation for this film is no different. Most of the film looks pristine and crisp, with razor sharp details, even in crowd shots and other long ones, crisp rendering of the film’s grain structure, and beautiful gray scale. I was stunned at times how clear the various ski tracks in the snow showed up, likewise the cuts in the ice from skates of the athletes.

Where the image is a teeny bit limited is in the source materials. It looks like most of the restoration comes from a negative, or close to it, but there are moments scattered about where details aren’t as sharp, gray scale rendering gets weaker and mushier, and the black levels aren’t as rich, crushing things a bit. Either a weaker source was used for these sequences or filming conditions limited things at the time, the latter of which does contribute to the blurrier opening, which was obviously filmed during a snow storm.

Still, this is another sharp and wonderful final presentation. It looks crisp and sharp and thanks to Adrian Wood’s mostly-hands-off approach to noise reduction it also looks very filmic.

9/10

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 film’s lossless PCM 1.0 monaural track gets the job done but is, like most of the sound films so far, a product of the time. The Norwegian narration is pretty one-note, lacking much in the way of range. The same can be said about the music that appears. But like all of the sound films in the set so far (I’m currently on disc 12 as of this writing) there is no severe damage present.

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 film Cowie goes over the events and then covers the technological advances to filmmaking that allowed “point of view” (or “Subjective”) shots from bobsleds and skiers. (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

Continuing the trend we get another wonderful looking restoration and encode in this set.




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