One would think that the makers of the film would capitalize on this subtext but it is barely referenced at all other than a bit of narration at the end of the movie (which is where the movie's title comes from.) In fact, the makers of the movie seem strangely uninterested in anything related to the games. Most of the events are indifferently filmed, with the athletes sometimes seemingly randomly selected. (There are a couple exceptions to this, the most notable ones being a couple hockey games and the men's ski jump.) This problem is aggravated by the utterly bizarre narration. It would appear that the film makers were worried that the viewers would find the games as boring as they apparently did, so they added multiple bits of "comedy relief." The narrator is frequently interrupted by his wife who is constantly hectoring him for money to buy clothes with and another man who has wandered into the booth to flirt with the wife. The result is that the narrator spends half of the movie making jokes about the fickleness of women. When he does get around to describing the events, he is prone to make comments on the appearances of the female athletes.
Some of the material is thrilling despite the way it is presented, but mostly the movie is flat. One notable exception is the treatment of figure skating near the end of the movie which uses trick photography and editing to turn the event into abstract art. You won't learn too much about the competitors, but it is pleasing to the eyes.
I watched this movie on YouTube knowing next to nothing about it, so I may not be the best person to review it. The plot is about a very sad and quiet woman who is going on a long train ride to the countryside. She attracts the attention of a rather loud and brash man. Even though she does nothing to encourage him and even seems completely disinterested in him, he won't leave her alone and he even gets off the train to follow her. Of course, as they get to know each other, secrets get revealed.
This is a sad but touching movie, with some nice directorial touches. There are some sudden, jarring cuts where you don't expect them, and the movie sometimes fools you into thinking one thing happens and then you find out that something else did. There is also effective use of sound, especially in the use of silence. The two lead actors are very good. I am not familiar with the actor, but fans of the 2009 Korean movie Mother might enjoy seeing the actress Hye-ja Kim in her first movie (according to IMDB anyway.) My only complaints about the movie is that it is a little slow and the music at times is really annoying, especially the 80s synthesizer tracks.
To be fair, the idea of making a movie like that probably did not even enter the head of the director and he probably didn't have the resources to do it if it had. And from the looks of things, this probably was not the type of event to inspire such lofty ambitions. From the footage captured here, the event had a very low key atmosphere. There were not that many events, nor that many athletes competing. The spectators appear to be either locals or other people associated with the games. It would appear that there was not a lot of significance placed on the games (it was not even declared to be an Olympic event until the next year) and the approach of the movie reflects that. The cameras are placed at a distance, so that the hockey players, long distance jumpers and the marathoners all make rather small figures on the screen. Only the figure skaters get somewhat more intimate treatment, and that is by comparison. The only close ups are of athletes after their competitions are over. Also, the movie is haphazard with its information. The athletes shown on the screen are often not identified, and while the viewer is usually informed who won the events shown, no indication is given of who won the silver or bronze. Still, there is always some pleasure in seeing events from the past and this movie definitely has some, albeit limited, historical interest.
Side note: in my review of The White Stadium, the movie about the second Winter Olympics (and a great example of how to do an Olympics documentary right) I speculated that it had the first movie appearance of Norwegian skater and future Hollywood star, Sonja Henie. I think that honor may belong to this movie. There is a very young skater shown struggling with her routine. Given that Henie came in last in her competition in this Olympic, I suspect that this skater may have been her. But unfortunately, the movie neither reveals the skater's name nor nationality.
An interesting side note: the next year Fanck would direct Leni Riefenstahl in The White Hell of Pitz Palu. Reifenstahl must have been paying attention to what Fanck was doing. Not only would she go on to direct a mountain movie of her own but also Olympiad, which has long been held to be the first great Olympics documentary. With the reappearance of The White Stadium (it was considered to be a lost movie until 2011) it may be time to reconsider that claim and to reevaluate Fanck's influence on Reifenstahl.
This movie is a short account of his victory. It uses footage from the race itself, intercut with reenactments of events from his life. The movie does a good job of showing how grueling the race was and the various twists and turns of his life that led him to that point. Plus, it has a nice jazz-inflected soundtrack.
Interestingly, even though Mimoun continued to compete (he even ran the marathon again in the next Olympics), he never again came in first place in a major competition. But that did not diminish the love his countrymen had for him. In 1999, a magazine poll named him France's greatest 20th century athlete.
Even though it was made behind the Iron Curtain, it was exported all over the world, and according to the East German Cinema Blog, it was East Germany's highest grossing film. But it's hard to imagine any child sitting still for it now.
A contemporary watching this film would not have known that the director was destined for greatness, but Clouzot handles his duties competently enough and it is a mystery why it took so long for him to be allowed to start making features.
The movie is fairly plotless, as most of the movie is taken up with just keeping track of the characters as they go about their lives. The tone is lighter than most of the other Naruse movies I have seen but it doesn't stay that way as an element of sadness takes hold by the end. Overall, this almost feels more like an Ozu movie than a Naruse one, but that is not a complaint. It is a melding of the best of both directors.
The movie is short, but some of the scenes linger a little too long and make the movie feel longer. But the music and cinematography are both beautiful. My main quibble is this: the movie spends way more time on Collins's trip with Lomax than it does on her singing career. Her recordings with Lomax are incredibly important, but that was only one part of her life (and it only lasted a couple years). Her singing career lasted over twenty years, and it was directed by her (and her sister), and it helped shape all English folk music that was to come after. So it is odd that it got such short shift here. But maybe they are saving it for a sequel...