Tokyo Olympiad (1965)

Genres - History, Sports & Recreation  |   Sub-Genres - Sports  |   Release Date - Oct 20, 1965 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Tom Wiener

Kon Ichikawa's record of the 1964 Summer Games isn't as self-consciously poetic as the gold medalist of Olympic documentaries, Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia, nor as historically significant as One Day in September, the harrowing account of the off-the-field tragedy at the 1972 Games in Munich. But this dogged record of dozens of events contains plenty of lovely imagery and makes wonderful use of the medium, especially in its attention to sound, as in the volleyball contests, punctuated by grunts, groans, and thuds as bodies crash onto the floor. What's historically important about Tokyo Olympiad as a film is that it's the last of its breed. No documentary since has tried to cover so much territory, and wall-to-wall TV coverage of the Games and instant video compilations have rendered this genre of theatrical film a dinosaur. At its original length and in its widescreen format, Tokyo Olympiad is an impressive achievement that can be compared favorably to any sports documentary, save Riefenstahl's masterpiece.