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Tokyo Olympiad (1965)

Tôkyô orinpikku (original title)
Kon Ichikawa examines the beauty and rich drama on display at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo, creating a record of observations that range from the expansive to the intimate.


Kon Ichikawa

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4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Abebe Bikila Abebe Bikila ... Himself
Jack Douglas Jack Douglas ... English-Language Narrator


Ichikawa's cameras follow the 1964 Summer Olympics from opening to closing ceremonies. Sometimes he focuses on spectators, as athletes pass in a blur; sometimes he isolates a competitor; other times, it's a closeup of muscles as a hammer is thrown or a barbell lifted; or, we watch a race from start to finish. We see come-from-behind wins in the women's 800 and the men's 10,000 meters. We follow an athlete from Chad from arrival to meals, training, competition, and loss. Throughout, the film celebrates the nobility of athletes pushing themselves to the limit, regardless of victory. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In Blazing Color and CinemaScope


Documentary | Sport


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

20 March 1965 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Tokyo Olympiad See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


70 hours of footage was shot (the equivalent of nearly three full days), which director Kon Ichikawa and his editor, Tatsuji Nakashizu, had to cut down to three hours. See more »


Edited into Marathon Man (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

The Olympic Games of 40 Years Ago
30 May 2005 | by tramkySee all my reviews

Having watched this film for the first time only recently, it was striking to try to realize how much is forgotten about any given Olympic Games with the passage of time. Many of the names of athletes, including those of the USA, are simply forgotten. Bob Hayes, Billy Mills, Joe Frazier, Don Schollander were about the only American athletes on the 1964 Olympic team that were recognizable in this film.

My view of this film is that it did not particularly energize me or inform me about the Tokyo Olympics. Many of the editing choices were not good, and it was not a film that would stand the test of time. Compared with the wonderful Olympic films by Bud Greenspan over the years (16 Days of Glory), this is clearly the product of a relative amateur. But this predates Greenspan's Olympic work, and for its time it was probably the most ambitious approach to filming such an enormous athletic event since Riefenstahl's work in Germany.

Individual sequences that were particularly enjoyable were the close close-ups of the shot-putters and the hammer-throwers, the sprinters spiking their starting blocks into the cinder track, swimmers on the starting blocks just before the start, the amazing finishing sprint by American Billy Mills to win the 10,000 meter race (to this day one of the great singular Olympic moments).

This film did not personalize the athletes--there was virtually no background provided about them, no personal story. The only portion that came close to that focused for a time on a young runner from Chad who, as was pointed out in the film, was at 22 much older than his country at the time. This was clearly the filmmaker's choice--to present an abstract vision of the Tokyo Games--but it somehow left me cold. To present the first Olympic Games held in Asia in such an impersonal, abstract way, seems like the incorrect choice of approach.

Well, I've now seen this film once, probably will never watch it again--it brought back some memories of those Olympic Games, some nice photography. But in the end uninspiring & forgettable. Oh, yes, it rained a lot in Tokyo in October of 1964.

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