100 Years of Olympic Films

Since 1912, the International Olympic committee has commissioned an official Olympic film, often directed by an acclaimed director of the time, that stands as a visual document of a specific Olympic games. This has resulted in a series of films that show both the progress of the games over the years and also illustrates the progression of film making.

The whole set is available at SCCLD but with 43 films spanning 100 years of Olympics it can be daunting to watch it all. While it is always fun to pick a year and explore, you can also check out these highlights.

Paris Olympics 1924 Paris 1924      

The highlight in this early footage is seeing the actual two runners, Harold Abramson and Eric Liddell, depicted in the Oscar winning Chariots of Fire actually competing.

Berlin-1936 Berlin 1936     

Leni Riefenstahl's Olympiad is probably the most notorious film in the collection. Ironically, a film that was conceived to celebrate German athleticism becomes a celebration of the grace and power of American Jesse Owens, dramatized in the 2016 film Race.

Tokyo Olympics 1964 Tokyo 1964     

Famed filmmaker Kon Ishikawa created one of the most visually striking of all Olympic films with Tokyo Olympiad.  Here it has been stunningly restored and worth watching alongside the more standard Olympic film using much of Ishikawa's footage.

Munich Olympics 1972 Munich 1972     

For the 1972 Olympics film an all star group of filmmakers created the Olympic film, Visions of Eight. The filmmakers include Claude LelouchKon IchikawaArthur PennJohn Schlesinger, and Milos Forman.

You can explore more the Olympics through film with these movies.

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