Film #11: Fight Without Hate (1948) Mar 13, 2018 13:53:08 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Mar 13, 2018 13:53:08 GMT -5
Fight Without Hate (1948)
Directed by: André Michel
Directed by: André Michel
Film #11/53; part of the Criterion Collection's "100 Years of Olympic Film" box-set
André Michel's Fight Without Hate paints a romantic picture of a time that will probably never come back. It's post-World War II, and with it far enough in the rear-view, nations have relaxed to embrace days they optimistically envision as brighter and more forward-thinking than the previously war-torn times. Michel's choice to profile the 1948 St. Moritz Winter Olympics in such an exuberant manner is a fine encapsulation of the period, while being a compelling Olympic documentary in a landscape that's decidedly post-Leni Riefenstahl given her amazing Olympia documentary had just recently set the bar for some incredible innovation.
Michel's film captures alpine skiing, cross country skiing, bobsledding, and figure skating with an amalgamating sense of poise and playfulness. His opening montage shows photographs from previous Olympics and Olympic documentaries, including clips from The Games of the V Olympiad Stockholm from 1912. It's like watching old memories that culminate under the umbrella of Michel's aptly titled film, which quaintly and eruditely captures the sentiment of most competitors during the beloved games.
Cast over Michel's strong visuals, however, are some instances of questionable banter from unseen husband and wife characters. To get a sense of the narrative, it's as if the husband is trying to narrate the Olympic games while his wife continues to interrupt. Several moments in the documentary capture that period-specific sexism, but no moment greater than in the early part of the film when the husband is trying to monologue about the Olympic torch and his wife opines that it's simply a gas nozzle. "It's symbolic, dear," he says with an audible grunt. "Women's minds, as we know, fail to grasp abstract notions." Because of these infrequent yet still prevalent quips, some might find it better to watch Fight Without Hate on mute to avoid any kind of infuriating moods.
Fight Without Hate concludes rather elegantly, however, with an existentialist commentary about how the legacies of these brave and fiercely competitive Olympians are marked by motionless photographs moreso than video footage. It's a great thing we have documentaries like Michel's to preserve the period, even if they are marked by problematic details in the present day.
Directed by: André Michel.