A documentary covering the Olympic Games at Chamonix in 1924.
A documentary covering the Olympic Games at Chamonix in 1924.
🏅"Judges examining the marks made on the ice by the skates."🏅
As of course there was no celebration of the Olympic Games in 1916 due to The Great War, Antwerp 1920 was the next version to be undertaken.
But everybody forgot their iPhones and no one recorded it so let's forget that one.
Thus, we move to the first full-scale Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France in early 1924. And this time Jean de Rovera and his Les Films Sportifs were there to document. At the foot of Mont Blanc, the winter resort had been hosting world and European champions for alpine sports for…
Fearing a tremendous poster.
Back in 2018 Criterion released 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012; it was the sort of esoteric collection that piqued my interest. Back in July of that year, I thought of splurging and purchasing the box set at a Barnes & Noble during their twice a year Criterion sale. Ultimately I did not and in hindsight that was correct as many of those probably won't be seen more than once and that cash went into other endeavors instead. Thank heavens for the Criterion Channel as this allows me to finally see those movies.
This was more chosen for length-a hair more than a half hour if you take out the credits-than any other factors. There won't be…
Film #2 of 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912 - 2012
While we're deprived of a film documenting the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912 - 2012 still has a trick up its sleeve - the I Olympic Winter Games. Clocking in at just 37 minutes, Jean de Rovera's first Olympic film, The Olympic Games Held at Chamonix in 1924, is an intimate glimpse of what was then known as "International Winter Sports Week". Breaking away from the newsreel format of The Games of the V Olympiad Stockholm, 1912, The Olympic Games Held at Chamonix in 1924 (love these titles, don't you?) provides a more cinematic glance at the games with sweeping, snowy visuals, editing and slow motion, which would later become a staple of the Olympic films.
Appetite whetted for a boxset full of slow-motion ski jumps.
I have some family that lives not too far from where these games were held. I visited when I was a little tyke in the late ‘80’s and it was a lovely region. No old timey skiers when I was there, however. This sports some great shot compositions and one really nice short montage. The short run time and fast pacing serves this well, and the use of slow motion made me forget how old of a documentary this really is.
delightful. use of slo-mo and the score are amazing. bobsled, landscape shots, and ski jump were the personal highlights.
This one attempts to be a film, more so than the last one at least. Once again, the footage looks fantastic.
Significantly shorter than the films on either side of it, thanks to the relatively small number of events. It's more of a loose taste of the competition than a disciplined rundown of participants, though we do still get those charming poses for the camera from the winners. Slow-motion is employed for the first time and is very effective. Safety hadn't been invented yet, so broken bones abound.
As for the question doubtless on everyone's lips: I'm sorry, nobody filmed the curling.
The film elements preserved from the very first Winter Olympics.
Chamonix acted as hosts for which seemed to be a somewhat motley assembly of contestants. The opening ceremony looked quite untidy and unorganized compared to nowadays, although most of them wore their ties and were properly dressed. Several contestants smoked. At the time it obviously was common to carry your equipment with you during the parade. Many carried broomsticks, surely these were curling team members?
First we get to see a few speed skaters, mostly Finnish athletes. Then over to Figure skating. The female contestants had no intention of freezing to death, dressed in coats, hats and knee high boots as they were. The cameraman was no fan of moving…
Hilarious that the modern restoration opens with a disclaimer basically stating, “Yeah we corrected the order of events because Jean fucked up.” While indeed primarily concerned with documenting “what happened” at the first official Winter Games, de Rovera includes plenty scene-setting on top of his fascinating slow motion flourishes to give impressions of and implications beyond the international takeover of the modest French commune. As someone who has worked a number of years digitally filming various sporting events alone with limited equipment, I absolutely love seeing how thoroughly and beautifully this unobtrusive time capsule was realized as it soars by feeling a fraction of its running time. Admittedly went with this over its Parisian counterpart due to the significant difference in time commitment, but now I must complete the set.
“A future champion is not easily discouraged!”
this film definitely strives to be more of a movie rather than a compilation of footage like 1912, and while there are benefits to this - the camera angles/movements, the vignettes, the shots of chamonix’s natural beauty, and the slow motion all make this a much more pleasing experience to watch - i feel like it fails because if you want to be a movie, you actually need to be a movie (and preferably not a sexist one; women wearing normal winter clothes and not skirts is considered “masculine garbs”? like, sorry they would rather be comfortable than look “ladylike”?), and while this tries it feels more like what 1912 was, just more…
Holds an entirely different appeal to me compared to the excitement of navel gazing the past of over a century ago in the Stockholm 1912 Olympics. Despite only being about a dozen years newer than the 5th Olympiad, I can't say that I was really fascinated by the vintageness of the year quite as much. Maybe because 1912 sounds far more primitive than The Roaring Twenties (and advancements in cinema advancing at a rapid rate), but the joy I got out of this stems from its gorgeous location, shot via far more interesting angles and camera placements than the decade prior's. This means that the shimmering white snow envelops the image with grey trees and cabins blending into the background of the sharply contrasting people in black. In other words, this far in and I'm already stunned by the beauty of how the events themselves look on film. The much truncated running time also makes things breezy and easily digestible.