(out of 5)
A documentary about the 1972 Munich Olympics that relegates the murder of the Israeli athletes to little more than a footnote is a strange concept, but at the time it was likely an attempt to celebrate the spirit of the games without giving into the splintering effect that the terrorists were hoping to cause (that’s possibly also why it is a largely forgotten documentary today, compared to others of its kind). Eight different filmmakers from around the world were commissioned to film the Berlin games from their unique points of view, each asked to focus on an aspect of the event that carried weight with them. Milos Forman is fascinated by the Decathlon, Mai Zetterling with competitions involving strength, Arthur Penn with height, Kon Ichikawa (whose Tokyo Olympiad is the definitive masterpiece of Olympic filmmaking) with speed. Claude Lelouch makes one of the most passionate segments on those who fail to win medals, examining the human response to losing, while John Schlesinger’s look at the endurance of marathon running takes the Israeli massacre into account as counterpoint to the triumph of completing the task at hand. Anyone who has seen either One Day In September or Munich will be interested in having more background on the games themselves, and while each segment is not equally enthralling, this makes for a highly engaging watch.
Bavaria Atelier, Wolper Productions
Music by Henry Mancini