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Once upon a time, pre-satellite if not pre-TV, most sports fans went to
the cinema to get a glimpse of the Olympic Games. Local Organizing
Committees hired a director from their country to cobble together a
feature documentary, in addition to which the likes of Bud Greenspan
produced newsreel footage.
Roone Arledge and his ABC-TV unit began to force changes to this routine in the 1960s. By the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics, the five-ring film was on its last legs. Arledge's same-day satellite transmission of Franz Klammer's spectacular downhill ski victory far outstripped Joe Jay Jalbert et al's coverage of the same event in "White Rock", the official film of this Austrian fortnight.
A team of directors, producers, camera and sound people with many shared experiences of Olympics past contributed to the content of "White Rock". Jalbert did ski-camera duty on "Downhill Racer". Mike Samuelson filmed many Olympics. Arthur Wooster the same, plus "Magical Mystery Tour". Herb Lightman of "American Cinematographer" once again filmed and then wrote about it. This was practically the last time such a fraternity had occasion to assemble.
The Olympics are surely not an exercise in nostalgia, but that is an inescapable conclusion about "White Rock".
I saw this film at the cinema, I already had the Rick Wakeman album and needed to see the film that went with the music. It turned out to be a magnificent combination, James Coburn's wonderful narrative, the different events of the Winter Olympics and the musical interpretation of the sports. The film was so memorable that I can still "see" the film when I hear the music, 30 years on. I've been trying to obtain a copy of this film, to no avail, this seems to be one of many minority interest films lost in the dusts of time. If anyone can advise on how best to obtain a copy of this film, it would be much appreciated. The Luge was exciting, I remember leaning in my seat, figure skating was beautiful, RW's music matched to perfection. The bobsled got the adrenaline flowing, I was there with them! I can't remember the ice hockey and the biathlon was OK, the 90 metre ski jump, something else!When one considers that this was made before the modern miniaturised cameras and videotape the effects were all the more enthralling. I still listen to the soundtrack, but it's not quite the same as seeing the film. The combination of an action hero and a progressive rock musician with a sporting spectacle were for me one of the best films of the 70s, I remember it well because it was one of the very few occasions I was tempted to go to the cinema as a student.(The other films were Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii, Yessongs and The Aristocats)
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