Film #7: The Olympic Games, Amsterdam 1928 (1928) Feb 11, 2018 21:32:54 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Feb 11, 2018 21:32:54 GMT -5
The Olympic Games, Amsterdam 1928 (1928)
Directed by: Wilhelm Prager
Directed by: Wilhelm Prager
Film #7/53; part of the Criterion Collection's "100 Years of Olympic Film" box-set
I'm going to do something that Wilhelm Prager's documentary The Olympic Games, Amsterdam 1928 should've done and that's keep this review short. About an hour into watching the three-hour film, I couldn't help but feel like I had I seen this exact same movie before. It was because I had. The Olympic Games, Amsterdam 1928 is essentially the same film as the exhaustive four-hour showcase of the same events, titled The IX Olympiad in Amsterdam. Prager is the unofficial director of that film, having been hired by the Fascist Italian studio, Istituto Luce, to recut the footage into shorts, but this film exists as a more cohesive and slightly less laborious endeavor.
However, it still bears the problems of The IX Olympia in Amsterdam in the form of being a lofty showcase that lacks an intriguing focal point as it almost effectively disassociates itself from humanizing the games' competitors. Furthermore, it becomes repetitious in the way it spends an awfully extended period of time covering the track and field events, all while giving other events like cycling little profile and shooting rowing and sailing competitions from a distance. Unlike the more extensive venture, the restoration of Prager's film helps contextualize the games better, with new title-cards that detail the times and the names of the winners in each event. Despite the disproportionate focus on on a handful events, it's at least something of a marginal blessing we're able to come away with a vague idea of the Olympians, even if they're just names on a black title-card.
Other events like discus and the 400 meter races appear pretty much the same as they did in The IX Olympiad in Amsterdam, with little edits made to the film or the pacing. The gymnastics events show more of the precision of the athletes and how meticulous they are in achieving their bodily contortions. Furthermore, Maud Nelissen's score is notably different than before, not to mention a lot livelier and more musical when it counts (the final laps of some track and field events are characterized by upbeat boogie and spirited piano keys).
Aesthetically speaking, Prager's film is an improvement with slightly better editing than its sister-film. However, The Olympic Games, Amsterdam 1928 is still burdened by being overlong and listless. Several events are interchangeably captured and the overall effect is lost to the most casual viewer who quietly demands more than a comprehensive look at the games. The Winter Games in Chamonix had the benefit of being captured in three different films by a very talented director, while the most accessible accounts we have of the Amsterdam Olympics, while complete, demonstrate a botched and ultimately forgettable job at capturing history in any sense besides one that essentially shrugs and states, "it happened."
Directed by: Wilhelm Prager.